Jack Kilby and his Calculator


Invention of the Hand-Held Calculator


It's All in the Marketing

Scientists might come up with great ideas for new technology, but it doesn't make much of a difference unless manufacturers start using the ideas. In the case of the integrated chip, industry was pretty slow on the uptake. The new chip, with its collection of transistors all made from a single crystal, could miniaturize practically anything -- if only someone was interested.

To snag the world's attention, Texas Instruments needed a marketing gimmick. They wanted a flashy product to showcase the IC. A calculator seemed just the thing. In a mere two years, a TI group including Jerry Merryman and James Van Tassel, and led by Jack Kilbydeveloped a calculator small enough to be held in your hand. Just over six inches tall, this portable calculator certainly surpassed the all-transistor calculator released just a year earlier -- that calculator weighed 55 pounds and cost $2,500.

-- "Team of Three Texas Instruments Engineers Invented the Portable, Hand-Held
Electronic Calculator in 1967", Editorial backgrounder, Texas Instruments
-- "The Chip that Jack Built Changed the World," Editorial Backgrounder, Texas Instruments

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