There are few living men whose insights and professional accomplishments have changed the world. Jack Kilby is one of these men. His invention of the monolithic integrated circuit – the microchip – some 30 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 exploring, 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 A&M University. At present, he maintains a schedule of work and travel on industry and government consulting assignments throughout the world. He also serves as director of several corporations.
Jack Kilby is 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 innovation.
Mr. Kilby holds over 60 U.S. patents. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He has been awarded the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal, the NAE's Vladimir Zworykin Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Holley Medal, and the IEEE's Metal of Honor, Cledo Brunetti Award, and 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.
From Jack Kilby's first simple circuit has grown a worldwide integrated circuit market whose sales in 1996 totalled $115 billion. These components supported a 1996 worldwide electronic end-equipment market of $957 billion. Such is the power of one idea to change the world.