Well, not quite the latest thing as these chips have been around for a few years now.

Anyway, the thing for any budding electronics enthusiast to get into right now are "PIC chips". These are commonly called micro-controllers, and are a like a "small computer on a chip".  This is the way that digital electronics seems to be going now, as these chips can replace loads of "logic gates" in an application. They are programmable, and can have the software, processor, RAM and inputs/outputs on a single IC!

I used to think that PIC was some sort of acronym. Maybe it is. Two reasonable examples I've seen for this are:-

1 - Peripheral Interface Controller.
2 - Peripheral Intelligent Controller.

This is not actually a documented thing. Maybe someone with a better knowledge than mine can put me right!

These chips (most of them are EEPROM's) are versatile in the fact that they can be reprogrammed. With EPROM's, the chips' contents have to be erased by subjecting them to a strong Ultra Violet environment for some 20 minutes. With this (PIC) type of chip, you can instantly erase them with the correct gear.

I've made a rather strange comparison here however, as you cannot compare a PIC chip to an EPROM!!!

Below is my first serious project, still in its R&D state. When finished, it's going to be a test system for electro-pnuematic pipe organ actions!

This project in detail