Jack St Clair Kilby:
Inventor of the Integrated Chip and Pocket Calculator
Jack Kilby began his career as a rather undistinguished scientist. He couldn't get into MIT, and he got consistently average grades as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois. But grades don't always make the man. Barely ten years after he graduated from college, Kilby independently co-invented an integrated chip, the kind of chip that today lies in the heart of every computer. By incorporating all the necessary electronic components onto a single crystal of silicon, Kilby was one of the men who helped start the information age.
In July of 1958, Kilby had been at Texas Instruments for little more than two months. The halls of TI were deserted as most of the researchers were on vacation. With plenty of time to himself, Kilby thought out how to build an integrated chip. What he didn't know was that Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore, then at Fairchild, were working on the same idea. Kilby's patent was first by five months, but Noyce's device, the "planar" IC, would dominate the market. After years of litigation, the two companies agreed to cross-license their devices.
Ten years later, Kilby had also helped build the first popular machine to make widespread use of the chip: the hand held calculator.
Kilby is still a consultant for TI and lives in Dallas, Texas. From 1978 to 1984 he was a professor at Texas A&M. He holds more than 60 U.S. patents.
-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson
-- Men and Women of Science
-- Texas Instruments
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