Tom Engibous' Eulogy at Jack Kilby's Memorial Service
27, 2005 -- Dallas
[Introduction by Gerald Turner]
Thank you, Gerald.
Looking out at the people in this room, I feel surrounded by
reminders of Jack Kilby’s remarkable life. And I don’t
mean that most of you have a cell phone … or that you
have e-mail piling up in your PC … that you drove here
in cars with electronic safety systems … or that this
morning you watched yesterday’s Rangers game on your Tivo.
It’s true that Jack’s invention of the integrated
circuit touches all of our lives dozens of times every day,
in ways that range from the mundane to the miraculous. But that’s
not what I’m talking about.
What I’m reminded of, looking at all of you, is
how Jack touched so many people in a very personal way.
I know he touched me personally with his thoughtfulness
I’ll never forget the day that Jack came to my
office after he won the Nobel Prize. He reached into his
coat pocket and pulled out a small object wrapped in tissue,
with his name neatly labeled on the front. He said, “This
is for TI.”
I opened the package, and there was the Nobel Prize medal.
Jack had received very limited extra copies, and he wanted
to share one with us. Words failed me when confronted
with such a generous act. But that was Jack.
In addition to his generosity, I will always remember
Jack as a man of great imagination. He knew that engineers
must have a good imagination if they hope to achieve great
To that end, Jack offered a piece of great advice to
a mother who once asked him, how could she teach her child
to be a great inventor? In his plainspoken Kansas voice,
Jack simply said, “Read them fairy tales.”
He knew that it’s okay to dream. In fact, he knew
that it is essential to dream, because without dreams,
nothing will change. And Jack very much wanted to change
things for the better.
Changing the world is exactly what Jack did, in ways
that are still unfolding. Thanks to his invention, our
world is on the cusp of artificial eyes that will let
blind people see … prosthetic devices that amputees
can control with their minds … and even cars that
safely drive themselves.
Yet no matter how often people praised and applauded
Jack, he remained the most humble of men. He was always
quick to credit the tens of thousands of engineers who
followed in his footsteps, building on his invention and
discovering new applications. And he was always kind to
the young engineers who flocked around him wherever he
went, asking for an autograph or to pose for a photo.
The encouragement that he gave to many generations of
engineers will continue making a difference in our world
for decades to come.
Some of the most talented of these engineers have been
honored through the years with the Jack Kilby Award, presented
by the Kilby Foundation. The foundation has prepared a
resolution acknowledging their appreciation for Jack’s
life and his many contributions, and the resolution will
be presented to Jack’s family.
I think Jack would have appreciated that, because his
family was so very important to him. If you knew Jack,
then you’re well aware of just how much he loved
his family – his wife, Barbara … his daughters,
Janet and Ann … his sister, Jane … and his
Jack often said, “The Kilbys specialized in girls.”
I would just add that the Kilbys specialized in very special
Something you might not know about Jack … is how
he helped scores of elementary, middle-school and high-school
students with their science and history papers. He would
answer the same questions time after time – always
with patience and a real interest in the individual.
T.R. Reid – who is here with us today – writes
for the Washington Post and wrote a book about the early
days of semiconductors. The Reids were living in Tokyo
when Jack won the Kyoto Prize, Japan's highest technology
award, and T.R.’s 8-year-old daughter, Katie, was
assigned to do a class paper about the famous inventor.
While Jack was talking with the young girl, the nervous
public relations people for the Kyoto Prize kept saying
it was time for interviews with Japan’s national
media. But Jack refused to be rushed and finally said,
“We can do the TV interview after I finish talking
Jack Kilby recognized that the future of our world does
not lie in the headlines of major media. He knew that
the future is born in the minds and hearts of little girls
So he took the time to inspire young people. He took
the time to inspire us all. And for that, I will be forever
grateful for the distinct honor of having known Jack Kilby.
At this point, I’d like to introduce three of Jack’s
personal friends, who will share their own thoughts. First,
we’ll hear from Charles Phipps, then from Charley
Clough and then Kevin McGarity.