Good things come in small packages, as we know there is great value in the many items that are built in small packages today. Mobile phones, in history are known to being the size of a suitcase.  Through changing the size of our coveted electronics brain, the microchip, we are able to reduce the size of our electronics. Today we have small and sleek mobile phones. Would you have a mobile phone today if it was still the size of a suitcase?

We at the Top SEO blog are dedicated to providing you the latest information on SEO and digital marketing, as well as the latest tech news but we also believe that it is important for all of us to know the history and origins of the technology that we all use on a daily basis, so we are starting a new series that we will call “The Modern Inventor”, each week we will write an article about an inventor who in some small way helped to influence the world in which we all live today.  If you have an inventor who you would like us to write about please leave a comment below and we will do our best to write about them in the next article.

Jack St. Clair Kilby – Inventor of the Microchip

Jack St. Clair Kilby – Inventor of the Microchip via The Library of Congress

Jack Kilby was born in Jefferson City, Missourion November 8, 1923 but his growing up years were spent in Great Bend, Kansas. Kilby’s father was an electrical engineer and worked for the local electric company. In the winter of 1937 there was a blizzard and Jack Kilby witnessed his father use a ham radio to keep in contact with the power stations. This kindled his desire and he soon obtained his radio license from the FCC and even built his own radio from salvaged parts. He wanted to be an electrical engineer after finishing high school. But he failed the entrance exam to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He chose instead to attend the University of Illinois.

The semester he started college Pearl Harbor was attacked. He saw that soldiers who were deployed were issued huge radios that operated erratically and were very heavy to transport. He decided to provide a remedy and went to Calcuttato purchase a large number of black market radio parts. He used these to build smaller radios that were much more reliable. He learned that if a machine did not function adequately it could be rebuilt!

He obtained a B.S. in electrical engineering from theUniversityofIllinoisand his M.S. degree from theUniversityofWisconsin. His career really began inMilwaukeewhen he started working with the Centralab Division of Globe Union Inc. in 1947. His work involved developing silk-screen circuits that were ceramic based that were to be used in different types of consumer electronic products.

He joined Texas Instruments of Dallas in 1958 and conceived the idea for the first electronic circuit and then built it. He was able to invent a circuit which contained all the passive and active components in one single semiconductor that was about half the size of a paper clip. He demonstrated his first simple microchip onSeptember 12, 1958.

Furthering His Inventions

Kilby went on to become a pioneer microchip technology for industrial, commercial and military applications. He headed up teams which worked on the construction of the first military system as well as the first computer which incorporated integrated circuits. He also worked to co-invent the thermal printer which is used in portable data terminals as well as the hand-held calculator. In all, Kilby owns over 50 US patents as well as those patents which cover the monolithic integrated circuit.

In 1970, Jack Kilby took a leave of absence from Texas Instruments so that he could continue work as an independent inventor. He explored many subjects but focused on using silicon technology which could be used to generate electrical power by using sunlight. He was granted the position of the Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering atTexasA&MUniversityfrom 1978 to 1984. Although he continues to work with Texas Instruments as a consultant and serves as a director on several boards he officially retired from the company in the 80s.

World-Wide Impacts

The simple circuit that was created by Jack Kilby back in the 50s has had a global impact. That small circuit totaled $177 billion in sales in just 2000 alone. These very small components actually support the worldwide use of various types of electronic equipment. This market alone was almost $1,150 billion in just 2000. His simple, seemingly small, idea has grown to change the entire world.

Jack Kilby Honors

Mr. Kilby has received two of the United State’s most prestigious honors that can be given in science and engineering. In 1970 he received the National Medal of Science in a White House ceremony. And in 1982 he took his place alongside such great inventors as Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballentine Medal along with many other awards. In 2000 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Mr. Kilby passed away on June 20, 2005 in Dallas, Texas after a short battle with cancer.