As a new TI employee in 1958, Kilby was forced to work during the traditional company summer vacation. During that time, he built the first integrated circuit, now the basic building block of everything from 3G cell phones to supercomputers.
The first IC was crude: a sliver of germanium with protruding wires glued to a glass slide. When Kilby applied electricity to the circuit, "an unending sine wave undulated across his oscilloscope screen. In that instant...he had successfully integrated all of the parts of an electronic circuit onto a single device made from the same semiconductor material," according to TI's Web site.
Robert Noyce, who co-founded Intel, also created an integrated circuit, about six months after Kilby. At that time, Noyce was at Fairchild Semiconductor (which he also co-founded). Noyce's chip, made of silicon, overcame some practical problems that Kilby's germanium-based device did not.
Kilby won the inventor's "Triple Crown": the Nobel Prize in physics; the National Medal of Science; and the National Medal of Technology. He held more than 60 patents including one for the portable electronic calculator, which TI invented in 1967. He died in 2005 at the age of 81 after a battle with cancer.
Edited by 7dude, 15 September 2008 - 10:26 PM.