This review describes a new paradigm of electronics based on the spin degree of freedom of the electron. Either adding the spin degree of freedom to conventional charge-based electronic devices or using the spin alone has the potential advantages of nonvolatility, increased data processing speed, decreased electric power consumption, and increased integration densities compared with conventional semiconductor devices. To successfully incorporate spins into existing semiconductor technology, one has to resolve technical issues such as efficient injection, transport, control and manipulation, and detection of spin polarization as well as spin-polarized currents. Recent advances in new materials engineering hold the promise of realizing spintronic devices in the near future. We review the current state of the spin-based devices, efforts in new materials fabrication, issues in spin transport, and optical spin manipulation.