I have just bought some 555 timers and they are timers for microelectronic circuits...could anyone tell me what I need to search for in order to get larger ones which will fit a breadboard? Thanks
OK, you know the answer from The Photon.
"DIP" package (a pleonasm) stands for "Dual In-line Package", also abbreviated to "DIL", for "Dual In Line". They have been used for 50 years, but they're used less now than 20 years ago.
Hobbyists often use DIP sockets when soldering.
They allow you to replace the IC without having to desolder it. There are also ZIF sockets (Zero Insertion Force), which are(were) for instance used in programmers where you have to insert and extract ICs all the time.
In recent years DIP has been replaced by SMDs (Surface Mounted Devices). They allow more compact products, are cheaper and offer technical advantages, like less inductance. You probably bought the SOIC (Small Outline IC) version of the LM555:
Other often used SMT (Surface Mount Technology) packages include the QFP (Quad Flat Package):
Many components are no longer manufactured in DIL packages, so you better get used to SMDs, both for ICs and discrete components: