Inventor who kicked off computer revolution dies

Parker, Kevin KParker at
Tue Jun 21 20:58:52 CDT 2005

This appeared in my twice daily feed of ABC News. My appreciation to ABC
news for the story


*Inventor who kicked off computer revolution dies*

Jack Kilby, the inventor of the integrated circuit which provided the
basis of the computer chip revolution, has died of cancer.

Mr Kilby, 81, made the discovery 47 years ago, when, as a recently hired
engineer at Texas Instruments, he was left to work alone in a laboratory
while most of his 7,500 colleagues were taking a company-wide summer

As a newly hired employee, Mr Kilby did not qualify to take a holiday in
August 1958.

"It was a very quiet time and he got a lot done," said Pat Weber, 65, a
long-time colleague and friend of Mr Kilby, who retired as vice chairman
of the Dallas-based Texas Instruments in 1998.

The company announced his death on Tuesday.

Mr Kilby, a seminal 20th century inventor whom many place in the same
league as Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers, won the Nobel Prize for
Physics in 2000 for his work.

By hand-wiring together multiple transistors, Mr Kilby's invention -
about half the size of a paper clip - spawned a revolution in
miniaturisation in which millions of circuits are now housed on tiny
pieces of silicon used in devices from computers to elevators to

Working in parallel at pioneering Silicon Valley company Fairchild
Semiconductor, Mr Kilby's rival Bob Noyce sketched out his own ideas for
an integrated circuit in an engineering notebook - then forgot about it,
according to a new biography of Mr Noyce's life.

Mr Kilby, on the other hand, immediately recognised the value of his
invention and built a working prototype in a matter of days, according
to associates at Texas Instruments.

Mr Kilby and Texas Instruments were first to patent the integrated

Mr Noyce, who later co-founded Intel Corp, and Fairchild Semiconductor
are credited with making the integrated circuit manufacturable on a mass
production basis.

While the competition sparked a 25-year patent battle between the
companies over royalties from the invention, the "Kilby patent"
weathered all legal challenges.

Kevin Parker
Web Services Consultant
WorkCover Corporation

p: 08 8233 2548
m: 0418 806 166
e: kparker at


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