This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Do You Know Jack?


June 20, 2005:  Jack St. Clair Kilby ~ First Integrated Circuit ~ Died

From your toaster to space ships, kids games to your cell phone, all use IC’s (integrated circuts).

Jack St. Clair Kilby took part (along with Robert Noyce) in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments 1958.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000.

Jack Kilby

He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator and the thermal printer.


Milwaukee Connection

Kilby received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is an honorary member of Acacia Fraternity.  In 1947, he received a degree in Electrical Engineering.  He obtained his master of science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Milwaukee,  which later became the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1950, while simultaneously working at Centralab in Milwaukee.

In mid-1958, Kilby was a newly employed engineer at Texas Instruments who did not yet have the right to a summer vacation.  He spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design that was commonly called the “tyranny of numbers” and finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution.


The first working integrated circuit was created by Jack Kilby in 1958. It contains a single transistor and supporting components on a slice of germanium and measures 1/16 by 7/16 inches (1.6 x 11.1 mm).

On September 12 he presented his findings to the management: he showed them a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached, pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he solved the problem.   U.S. Patent 3,138,743 for “Miniaturized Electronic Circuits”, the first integrated circuit, was filed on February 6, 1959.   Along with Robert Noyce (who independently made a similar circuit a few months later), Kilby is generally credited as co-inventor of the integrated circuit.

In 1983, Kilby retired from Texas Instruments.

In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his breakthrough discovery, and delivered his personal view of the industry and its history in his acceptance speech.

He died June 20, 2005 when he was 81, in Dallas, Texas, following a brief battle with cancer.

In the end, this simple development opened the door for years of refinement that have led us to our increased technological sophistication.  One integrated circuit led to another until it ended with the mind shatteringly fast chips of today.  Hundreds of millions of basic electronic parts are now able to fit on one chip that is no larger than an average fingernail.

Pretty amazing, especially when you consider that this chip powers your life through its advanced methods of calculation that paved the way for the information age.

imagesCAHOEHIH 5

Here’s a cool use for old transistors & Integrated circuits


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