Over the years, analog has received a bad rap. Many circuits have been replaced by a digital "equivalent." As time goes on, A/D & D/As' bit resolutions go higher. Digital speeds force designs to deal with analog issues like line impedance, reflections, EMI, etc. I find it humorous that as digital becomes higher in speed speed and becomes more entrenched into design, it ultimately has a goal to become...Analog!
Analog surely won't die! You can see many semiconductor companies are leaning towards analog. National Semiconductor itself is an obvious example that it once lean towards digital and has built a lot of CPU, MCU and logics but just lost money. Until quite recently (yep compare to the history of this company), they cut out all lossy digital business and stop the red numbers from their balance sheet. This company reshaped itself back to analogy supplier and seems doing quite well! TI is another giant that lean more to analog even though it is so strong in standard logic and DSP. Microchip is originally a MCU supplier but it also changed to develop more and more analog building blocks. There are so many examples in the industry which all show the vitality of analog electronics.
The report of analog's demise has been going on for much longer than I care to recall, often by many of those in our own industry. I know a number of people who believe that everything is solvable by using only digital technology - and maybe it is but that solution is often not the best one from a performance point of view. In many instances, we have shown a willingness to accept not really quite good enough (how many times have we seen performance standards/requirements modified) because it could be made cheaper using a digital solution.
On balance, there are times when digital is appropriate, times when analog is the way to go, and probably more times when mixed signal is the proper solution.
Based on what I see here at Screaming Circuits, I'd have to conclude that analog and mixed signal is an expanding industry. Not a contracting one.
Between sensors, wireless, carrier modulation and other applications, there seems to be a lot of analog going on. I'd certainly agree that it's alive, well and soaring.
I recall reading a few articles back in the early 1990's indicating that while the west had all but abandoned analog, the ex-Soviet Block had not and thus analog engineers from that area were in high demand in the west.
I don't know how true those articles were, but it does say that the discussion on the deadness of analog has been going on for quite a long time.
We live in a world of in which our electronic gadgets require an ever-increasing number of sensors, display capabilities, signal I/Os, and power supplies needed to run everything. Without power, circuits don't operate, and without I/O to the real world, digital is just a lot of pointless number crunching that is invisible to human beings. I think the Wall Street pundits just don't get it.
Thanks for your comment--I did not say the electronic equivalent was $5, just that the existing lock you see everywhere is $5. The electronic ones are certainly more expensive, but making inroads since they are re-programmable, somewhat easier and quicker to open, and--let's face it--look "cool".
Tend to agree for the most part except the statement "Even "mundane" items, such as the ubiquitous $5 combination lock used on gym lockers, have gone electronic."
Really? I have not found anything close to $5 for an electronic padlock.