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Jack Kilby is rightly referred to as the “Face of Modern Computing,” as the computer industry would not exist today without his inventions of the integrated circuit and microchip. Today’s world is literally in the palm of our hands, with integrated circuits and microchips meeting the majority of our daily requirements and needs. Before Kilby invented the integrated circuit, computers were mostly room-sized and had limited functionality. It was his discovery that resulted in the machine being scaled up to the size it is today. The small marvel transformed the way the electronic industry operates and can be safely regarded as a seminal achievement in computer technology. Jack Kilby had a long history with science and electronics. Kilby developed an early interest in physics and mathematics and, after completing his studies, accepted a position at Texas Instruments. Kilby first came up with the idea of an integrated circuit while attempting to solve the ‘tyranny of numbers’ problem. In 1958, while pursuing this idea, he invented the integrated circuit. He received numerous prestigious and illustrious awards and honors for the same, including the Nobel Prize. Among Kilby’s other accomplishments are the invention of the thermal printer and the world’s first integrated-circuit calculator.

Childhood & Adolescence

Jack Kilby was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on November 8, 1923. His father owned a small electric company, which instilled a passion for electronics in young Kilby.

Kilby served in the military as a technician stationed in India during World War II. Kilby, like his father, has been fascinated by radio since a young age, to the point where he was frequently referred to as an amateur radio buff.

Academically gifted, Kilby earned his high school diploma from Great Bend High School. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1947 with a degree in electrical engineering. He earned his Master’s degree in the subject three years later from the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Milwaukee.

Kilby worked at the Centralab in Milwaukee while pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He owned an electronic manufacturing company that produced components for radios, televisions, and hearing aids.

Career of Jack

Kilby began his career as an engineer at Texas Instruments in 1958. This appointment fulfilled a long-held ambition of his to work on electronic component miniaturization.

At the time of his appointment, the electronic industry was grappling with the ‘tyranny of numbers’ when designing circuits. Kilby quickly debunked the widespread belief that a micro-module would resolve the issue. Rather than that, he believed that the only cost-effective way to provide the solution was through a semiconductor.

By combining isolated electronic components, he was able to make them work in a miniature environment. This resulted in the development of the integrated circuit, the world’s first miniaturized electronic circuit, which revolutionized the way technology was used up to that point.

In February 1959, he filed for a US patent. Kilby and Robert Noyce, another inventor who invented another type of integrated circuit, share credit for the invention of the integrated circuit.

Jack Kilby’s integrated circuit found a place in military, industrial, and commercial applications following his major breakthrough. Microchip technology aided in the development of the first military system and computer-integrated integrated circuit.

While the invention of the integrated circuit was a watershed moment in the history of computing, many were skeptical of its performance and capabilities. As such, he went on to develop a calculator that would successfully commercialize the integrated circuit, putting an end to all cynicism. The public was astounded by the invention of the pocket device, which, despite its diminutive size, was just as powerful as the electro-mechanical computer.

Additionally, Kilby is credited with inventing the thermal printer. The printer was a convenient device for everyday use and was primarily used in portable data terminals.

Kilby took a leave of absence from Texas Instruments in 1970 to pursue independent work. During this time period, he investigated the use of silicon technology for solar energy generation.

Kilby served as Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University for six years, from 1978 to 1984. Meanwhile, he left Texas Instruments in 1983.

Significant Works of Jack

Kilby made the most significant contribution to electronic technology as the inventor of the integrated circuit. Kilby first came up with the idea of miniaturization of electronic circuits while working at Texas Instruments to solve the ‘tyranny of numbers’ problem.

He finally invented the integrated circuit in September 1958. He combined isolated electronic elements to work in a miniature environment, which resulted in his most ground-breaking discovery.

Apart from inventing the integrated circuit, Kilby is credited with inventing thermal printers and creating the world’s first integrated-circuit calculator. Pocketronic was the original name given to this pocket-sized device.

Awards and Accomplishments

Kilby received the nation’s most prestigious honors in the field of engineering and technology for his outstanding contributions, including the National Medal of Science in 1969 and the National Medal of Technology in 1990.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1967 and later inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1982.

Kilby’s significant contribution to electronic technology was recognized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which bestowed upon him numerous awards, including IEEE Fellow, IEEE David Sarnoff Award, IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award, IEEE Centennial Medal, and IEEE Medal of Honor.

In 1998, he was appointed Honorary Professor at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University (NCTU). In 2000, Kilby was the proud recipient of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics for his ground-breaking invention of the integrated circuit. He shared the award with Robert Noyce, recognizing the latter’s contributions to the field.

Along with honorary degrees and medals, Kilby received honorary doctorates from a number of universities, including Southern Methodist University, the University of Miami, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Texas A&M University, Yale University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Personal History and Legacies

Kilby died in Dallas, Texas, on June 20, 2005. He was afflicted with cancer. Numerous buildings and institutions have been named after him posthumously, including The Kilby Center, TI’s research center for silicon manufacturing, and the Jack Kilby Computer Centre at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus.

Estimated Net Worth

Jack is one of the wealthiest inventors and is listed on the list of the most popular inventors. Jack Kilby’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Trivia

This American electrical engineer, who also invented the integrated circuit, is credited with inventing the calculator that we use daily today.