Hellenica World


Kilby holding an old calculator and one of the newest.

Jack St. Clair Kilby (November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) was a notable American electrical engineer who co-won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. He invented the integrated circuit in 1958 while working at Texas Instruments (TI) at about the same time Robert Noyce made the same invention at Fairchild Semiconductor. (However, Noyce's patent came six months later.)


Kilby was born in Jefferson City, Missouri. He spent much of his early life in Great Bend, Kansas and graduated from Great Bend High School. Road signs at the entrances to the town commemorate his time there.

Kilby received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1947 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He obtained a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1950, while simultaneously working at Centralab in Milwaukee.

In the summer of 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 semiconductors could provide a solution. On September 12 he presented his findings to the management 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. A patent for a "Solid Circuit made of Germanium", the first integrated circuit, was later filed on February 6, 1959.

From 1978 to 1985, he was Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for his breakthrough discovery. The J-K flip-flop is named after him, as is The Kilby Center, TI's research center for silicon manufacturing.

In addition to the integrated circuit, Kilby also is noted as the patenting inventor of the portable calculator and the thermal printer used in data terminals. In total, he held more than 50 patents.

Kilby passed away June 20, 2005 at the age of 81, in Dallas, Texas following a brief battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

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