Jack Kilby, Nobel laureate and inventor of integrated circuit, dies at 81

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000 for his work on developing the integrated circuit, Jack Kilby died after battling cancer on Monday, June 20, 2005, in Dallas at the age of 81. After years of claims, Kilby agreed to share credit for the invention with Robert Noyce, the co-founder of chip maker Intel.

His contribution to the pioneering breakthrough of the integrated circuit was made by Kilby during his employment with Texas Instruments (TI) in 1958. He also is credited with co-inventing the handheld calculator which made TI the leader in early consumer electronics development. The integrated circuit paved the way in the development of the microchip used today in computers, DVD players, interactive video games and cell phones.

Kilby's work includes the awarding of 60 patents. It was said of him in a statement by TI chairman Tom Engihous that, "In my opinion, there are only a handful of people whose works have truly transformed the world and the way we live in it — Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Jack Kilby."

In his first year working with TI, Kilby's work on what became the forerunner to the microchip was an invention he fabricated by using a sliver of germanium on a glass slide. This invention was the predecessor to the semiconductor that ultimately replaced vacuum tubes and switching wires then in use as the transistor devices. The invention also led to solid state electronics able to withstand more shock and impact in handling.

Kilby is recognised for his 'seminal thought' on the integrated circuit by being awarded the Robert N. Noyce Award in 1995, the Semiconductor Industry Association's highest honor. He is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.