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Power electronics technology has gone through dynamic evolution in the last four decades. Recently, its applications are fast expanding in industrial, commercial, residential, transportation, utility, aerospace, and military environments primarily due to reduction of cost, size, and improvement of performance. In the global industrial automation, energy conservation, and environmental pollution control trends of the 21st century, the widespread impact of power electronics is inevitable. It appears that the role of power electronics on our society in the future will tend to be as important and versatile as that of information technology today. In this paper, the importance of power electronics will be discussed after a brief historial introduction in the beginning. Then, the recent advances of power semiconductor devices, converters, variable-frequency AC drives, and advanced control and estimation techniques will be reviewed briefly. Unlike a traditional technology survey paper, the number of figures is kept intentionally small in favor of the text within the length constraint of this paper. The prognosis of different areas will be highlighted wherever possible based on the author's own knowledge and experience. In conclusion and future scenario, the trend of power electronics and motor drives along with some possible research and development areas will be highlighted.