Most Significant Achievement
April 25, 1961: Patent Awarded for Integrated Circuit
Do you currently use anything electronic? Integrated circuits are used in virtually all electronic equipment today and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the low cost of producing integrated circuits.
[Above image: About a half inch wide, this archaic-looking collection of two transistors mounted on a bar of germanium was nonetheless the first integrated circuit and was demonstrated by Texas Instruments on September 12, 1958]
Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby both had similar ideas on how to accomplish this. Kilby used germanium while Noyce used Silicon. There was a long dispute about who was the rightful inventor. Today, we have seen the silicon version prevail.
The impact of this tiny chip has been far-reaching. The chip virtually created the modern computer industry, transforming yesterday’s room-size machines into today’s array of minicomputers and personal computers and cell phones.
For almost 50 years after the turn of the 20th century, the electronics industry had been dominated by vacuum tube technology. But vacuum tubes had inherent limitations. They were fragile, bulky, unreliable, power hungry, and produced considerable heat.
Without knowing each other, through two independent paths, Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce both invented, almost at the same time, the Integrated Circuit (IC). The invention also known as “the chip”, has been recognized as one of the most important innovations and significant achievements in the history of humankind.