are few men whose insights and professional accomplishments
have changed the world. Jack Kilby was one of these men. His
invention of the monolithic integrated circuit - the microchip
- 50 years ago at Texas Instruments (TI) laid the conceptual
and technical foundation for the entire field of modern microelectronics.
It was this breakthrough that made possible the sophisticated
high-speed computers and large-capacity semiconductor memories
of today's information age.
Mr. Kilby grew up in Great Bend, Kansas. With B.S. and
M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the Universities
of Illinois and Wisconsin respectively, he began his career
in 1947 with the Centralab Division of Globe Union Inc.
in Milwaukee, developing ceramic-base, silk-screen circuits
for consumer electronic products.
In 1958, he joined TI in Dallas. During the summer of that
year working with borrowed and improvised equipment, he conceived
and built the first electronic circuit in which all of the
components, both active and passive, were fabricated in a
single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a
paper clip. The successful laboratory demonstration of that
first simple microchip on September 12, 1958, made history.
Jack Kilby went on to pioneer military, industrial, and
commercial applications of microchip technology. He headed
teams that built both the first military system and the first
computer incorporating integrated circuits. He later co-invented
both the hand-held calculator and the thermal printer that
was used in portable data terminals.
In 1970, he took a leave of absence from TI to work as an
independent inventor. He explored, among other subjects, the
use of silicon technology for generating electrical power
from sunlight. From 1978 to 1984, he held the position of
Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas
Mr. Kilby officially retired from TI in 1983, but he maintained
a significant involvement with the company throughout his
Jack Kilby was the recipient of two of the nation's most
prestigious honors in science and engineering. In 1970, in
a White House ceremony, he received the National Medal of
Science. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame, taking his place alongside Henry Ford, Thomas
Edison, and the Wright Brothers in the annals of American
Mr. Kilby held over 60 U.S. patents. He was a Fellow of the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine
Medal, the NAE's Vladimir Zworykin Award, the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers' Holley Medal, the IEEE's
Medal of Honor, the Charles Stark Draper Prize administered
by the NAE, the Cledo Brunetti Award, and the David Sarnoff
Award. On the 30th anniversary of the invention of the
integrated circuit, the Governor of Texas dedicated an
official Texas historical marker near the site of the
TI laboratory where Mr. Kilby did his work.
In 2000, Jack Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit.
Mr. Kilby passed away on June 20, 2005, in Dallas following
a brief battle with cancer. Yet, his legacy lives on.
From Jack Kilby's first simple circuit has grown a worldwide
integrated circuit market whose sales in 2007 totaled $219 billion.
These components supported a 2007 worldwide electronic end-equipment
market of nearly $1,500 billion. Such is the power of one idea
to change the world.