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The purpose of this article is to categorize the needs and desired features that a logic or system designer should consider when selecting a family of digital integrated circuits. The various major digital IC families are evaluated and compared with these needs in view. The intended results are that the reader will gain facility in IC technology, terminology, and usage in various areas of application. Part II of this article will cover transistor-transistor logic (TTL) devices. Part III is devoted to emitter-coupled logic (ECL) and metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) devices.