facts about the invention of Integrated Circuits by Jack
Kilby and Robert Noyce in 1958.
- The impact of this tiny chip has been far-reaching. Many of
the electronics products of today could not have been developed without it. The chip
virtually created the modern computer industry, transforming yesterdays room-size
machines into todays array of mainframes, minicomputers and personal computers.
|It was a relatively simple device that
Jack Kilby showed to a handful of co-workers gathered in TIs semiconductor lab more
than 40 years agoonly a transistor and other components on a slice of germanium.
Little did this group of onlookers know, but Kilbys invention, 7/16-by-1/16-inches
in size and called an integrated circuit, was about to revolutionize the electronics
|For almost 50 years after
the turn of the 20th century, the electronics industry had been dominated by
vacuum tube technology. But vacuum tubes had inherent limitations. They were fragile,
bulky, unreliable, power hungry, and produced considerable heat.
It wasnt until
1947, with the invention of the transistor by Bell Telephone Laboratories, that the vacuum
tube problem was solved. Transistors were miniscule in comparison, more reliable, longer
lasting, produced less heat, and consumed less power. The transistor stimulated engineers
to design ever more complex electronic circuits and equipment containing hundreds or
thousands of discrete components such as transistors, diodes, rectifiers and capacitors.
But the problem was that these components still had to be interconnected to form
electronic circuits, and hand-soldering thousands of components to thousands of bits of
wire was expensive and time-consuming. It was also unreliable; every soldered joint was a
potential source of trouble. The challenge was to find cost-effective, reliable ways of
producing these components and interconnecting them.
TI was working on the Micro-Module program when Kilby joined the company in 1958.
Because of his work with Centralab in Milwaukee, Kilby was familiar with the "tyranny
of numbers" problem facing the industry. But he didnt think the Micro-Module
was the answer it didnt address the basic problem of large quantities of
components in elaborate circuits.
So Kilby began searching for an alternative, and in the process decided the only thing
a semiconductor house could make cost effectively was a semiconductor. "Further
thought led me to the conclusion that semiconductors were all that were really required
that resistors and capacitors [passive devices], in particular, could be made from
the same material as the active devices [transistors]. I also realized that, since all of
the components could be made of a single material, they could also be made in situ
interconnected to form a complete circuit," Kilby wrote in a 1976 article titled
"Invention of the IC." Kilby began to write down and sketch out his ideas in
July of 1958. By September, he was ready to
demonstrate a working integrated circuit built on a piece of semiconductor material.
Meanwhile up in northern California, a recently formed company
Fairchild Semiconductor under the leardership of Robert Noyce began making silicon
transistors, which at the time had to be wired together by hand after they were produced.
It was a cumbersome, laborious process, and it soon became clear to Fairchilds
founders that the commercial success of their venture rested on the development of a
better production method.
Noyce, in his capacity as director of research and development,
joined Fairchild co-founder Gordon Moore in investigating methods of connecting
transistors that would eliminate after-production wiring. After a time, they developed a
theory that seemed plausible, based on the idea of combining transistors in a solid block
of silicon. Noyce began making notes in his lab notebook, unaware that a similar theory
had already been arrived at the summer before in the laboratories of Texas Instruments,
where a young scientist named Jack Kilby had spent months wrestling with the same problem.
Texas Instruments would publicly unveil Kilbys discovery. Several executives,
including former TI Chairman Mark Shepherd, gathered for the event on September 12, 1958.
What they saw was a sliver of germanium, with protruding wires, glued to a glass slide. It
was a rough device, but when Kilby pressed the switch, an unending sine curve undulated
across the oscilloscope screen. His invention. now called the integrated circuit, worked
he had solved the problem.
This accelerated the efforts at Fairchild Semiconductor, which were
now focused on making the connections between the tiny transistors and components an
integral part of the manufacturing process itself. Jean Hoerni, one of Fairchilds
original founders, came up with a workable method when he developed the "planar"
process. This process, which uses oxidation and heat diffusion to form a smooth insulating
layer on the surface of a silicon chip, allowed the embedding of insulated layers of
transistors and other elements in silicon. By using the insulation afforded by the planar
process, each layer could now be isolated electrically, which eliminated the need to cut
apart the layers and wire them back together as had been necessary in the past.
Fairchild Semiconductor filed a patent for a semiconductor
integrated circuit based on the planar process on July 30, 1959, touching off a
decade-long legal battle between Fairchild and Texas Instruments, which previously had
filed a similar patent based on Kilbys technology. Eventually, the U.S. Court of
Customs and Patent Appeals upheld Noyces claims on interconnection techniques but
gave Kilby and Texas Instruments credit for building the first working integrated circuit.
Without knowing each other, through two independent paths, both invented, almost at the
same time, the Integrated Circuit (IC). The invention of Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, also
known as "the chip", has been recognized as one of the most important
innovations and significant achievements in the history of humankind.
Computing from The Great Idea
from The Great Idea Finder
Biography from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages / Bluewood Books
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a
really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
Fire: The Birth of the Information Age (Limited availability)
by Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson / Hardcover: 352 pages / W.W. Norton & Company
This book is very well written, and does a good job of telling the history of the
invention of the transistor. The book focuses on the technological aspects of the
invention, but also does a great job of telling the story of the personalities, and (now
multi-million dollar) businesses that were involved with the invention.
The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a
by T. R. Reid / Paperback - 288 pages (October 9, 2001) / Random House (Paper)
Reid has thoroughly updated The Chip, his 1985 exploration of the life work of inventors
Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, to reflect the colossal shift toward smarter gadgets that has
taken place since then.
The Microcontroller Idea Book: Circuits, Programs & Applications
Featuring the 8052-Basic Single-Chip Computer
by Jan Axelson / Paperback - 277 pages 1st edition (October 1994) / Lakeview Research
The real gold in the book is the collection of input/output circuits that show you how to
connect to the outside world and have it all work properly.
Strange Stories, Amazing Facts ( This
title is out of print. )
by Readers Digest Editors / Hardcover - 608 pages (1976) / Readers Digest Association
Man's amazing inventions only covers 32 pages.
Americans ( This title
is out of print. )
by National Gographic Society / Hardcover - 231 pages (1971) / NGS-Special Pub. Division
ON THE WEB:
History of the
The Chip that Jack Built Changed the World
Hailed for inventing integrated circuit It would be hard to pick him out as one of
the most important men of this century. But Jack Kilby is. CNN Sci-Tech artical by Charles
Hall of Fame
Miniaturized Electronic Circuits Integrated Circuit Patent Number 3,138,743 Inducted 1982
In 1958, Jack St. Clair Kilby conceived and proved his idea of integrating a transistor
with resistors and capacitors on a single semiconductor chip, which is a monolithic IC.
Nobel Prize in Physics
Jack S. Kilby is being rewarded for his part in the invention and development of the
integrated circuit, the chip.
Inventor of the Week
By the mid-1970s, the computing industry was inconceivable without the microchip, which
forms the basis of modern microelectronics.
A Tale of Two
They were born four years apart in two distant places, and
yet they were destined to start a technological revolution that changed the world.
by James Redin
An integrated circuit is an assembly of interconnected components on a small
semiconductor chip, usually made of silicon. As always the Smithsonian
Chip Collection is a must see.
A random sampling of patents relating to the developments within
integrated circuit technologies. Prepared by the Smithsonian Institute.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Without the chip, man could not explore space or fly to the moon.
- The chip restructured communications, fostering a host of new ways for instant exchanges
of information between people, businesses and nations.
- The chip helps the deaf to hear and is the heartbeat of a myriad of medical diagnostic
- The chip has also touched education, transportation, manufacturing and entertainment.
- The integrated circuit has enabled an entire industry to
grow. Projections indicate that it will become the worlds single largest industry.
Sources in BOLD Type
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
CELEBRATE WITH US