- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2005

DALLAS (AP) — Nobel laureate Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention of the integrated circuit opened the way for the microchips that are the brains of today’s computers, video games and cell phones, died June 20 after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

In 1958, his first year working with Texas Instruments in Dallas, Mr. Kilby used borrowed equipment to build the first integrated circuit, in which all the components were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip. He also co-invented the hand-held calculator.

Mr. Kilby’s fingernail-size integrated circuit, a forerunner of the microchip used in today’s computers, replaced the bulky and unreliable switches and tubes that had been used in the first computing devices.

He won the 2000 Nobel Prize in physics.

“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,” TI Chairman Tom Engibous said yesterday. “If there was ever a seminal invention that transformed not only our industry but our world, it was Jack’s invention of the first integrated circuit.”

Sales of integrated circuits totaled $179 billion in 2004, supporting a global electronics market of more than $1.1 trillion, according to TI.

Mr. Kilby’s more than 60 U.S. patents included one filed in 1959 for an integrated circuit made of the element germanium. A few years later, Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor received a patent for a similar but more complex circuit made of silicon. Mr. Noyce later co-founded Intel Corp., whose chips are used in many of today’s computers.

Mr. Kilby said he never craved fame or wealth.

“I think it just happened,” he said in a 2000 interview with the Associated Press. “It wasn’t deliberate. I didn’t say ‘Inventors are nice and I want to be one.’ I just think if you work on interesting projects, invention is kind of a natural consequence.”

He received the National Medal of Science in 1970, and in 1982 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Mr. Kilby spent his later years as a consultant to TI, working on industry and government assignments throughout the world.

Survivors include two daughters and five granddaughters.


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