Jack Kilby won the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the
monolithic integrated circuit known as the microchip, in 1958, which paved the way for
the modern information age. 1923-2005.
Jack St. Clair Kilby was
born on November 8, 1923 and attended school in Great Bend.
Photo courtesy Barton Co. Historical Society
Kilby received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1947, he received a degree in Electrical Engineering. He obtained his Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from 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. On September 12 he presented his findings to management, which included Mark Shepherd, of Texas Instruments: 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 addition to the integrated circuit, Kilby also is noted for patenting the electronic portable calculator and the thermal printer used in data terminals. In total, he held about 60 patents. The Library of Congress houses the majority of the papers of Jack Kilby.
In 1983, Kilby retired from
Texas Instruments. He won countless
awards and received nine honorary doctorates.
He is also the recipient of the nation's most prestigious honors in
science and engineering: the National Medal of Science in 1969, the National
Medal of Technology in 1990. In 1982, he was inducted into the National
Inventors Hall of Fame.
In 2001 Great Bend honored their "Nobel Son" at a special program. Photo courtesy Barton County Historical Society
In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his breakthrough discovery.
Kilby died June 20, 2005 when he was 81, in Dallas, Texas following a brief battle with cancer.
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