Jack Kilby

Jack_KilbyJack St. Clair Kilby (American; November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) Electrical engineer who co-won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He invented the integrated circuit in 1958 while working at Texas Instruments, about six months before Robert Noyce made the same invention at Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1938 Kilby rode with his father to the home of a neighbor and ham radio operator during a blizzard in Great Bend, Kansas. He was so fascinated by the equipment that he claimed; “It convinced me that I wanted to study electrical engineering.” He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1947, with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and obtained a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1950. In the summer of 1958, Kilby was employed as an engineer at Texas Instruments, and spent the summer working on a problem in circuit design that was commonly called the “tyranny of numbers”. This was a problem, mainly with computing devices, where the number of necessary components grew increasingly larger, making it increasingly more difficult to connect them together using common wiring methods. He realized that the solution was to manufacture large numbers of these components on a single substrate. He presented his findings to the management of Texas Instruments, and showed them a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached. He pressed a switch and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and that he had solved the problem. A patent for a “Solid Circuit made of Germanium” was filed on February 6, 1959 – the first integrated circuit. In addition to the integrated circuit, Jack Kilby is also known for helping to develop the portable electronic calculator, and later in his career, worked on thermal printing and solar panels. Read more…

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