Jack St. Clair Kilby (November 8, 1923 – June 20, 2005) was an American electrical engineer who took part in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments (TI) in 1958.
He is also the inventor of the handheld calculator and the thermal printer, for which he has patents. He also has patents for seven other inventions.
In mid-1958, Kilby, as a newly employed engineer at Texas Instruments (TI), did not yet have the right to a summer vacation. He spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design that was commonly called the "tyranny of numbers" and finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution. On September 12 he presented his findings to management, which included Mark Shepherd. He showed them a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached, pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he had solved the problem. U.S. Patent 3,138,743 for "Miniaturized Electronic Circuits", the first integrated circuit, was filed on February 6, 1959. Along with Robert Noyce (who independently made a similar circuit a few months later), Kilby is generally credited as co-inventor of the integrated circuit.
Jack Kilby went on to pioneer military, industrial, and commercial applications of microchip technology. He headed teams that built both the first military system and the first computer incorporating integrated circuits. He later co-invented both the hand-held calculator and the thermal printer that was used in portable data terminals.
In 1970, he took a leave of absence from TI to work as an independent inventor. He explored, among other subjects, the use of silicon technology for generating electrical power from sunlight. From 1978 to 1984 he held the position of Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
In 1983, Kilby retired from Texas Instruments.
Awards and honors
Recognition of Kilby’s outstanding achievements have been made by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), including the election to IEEE Fellow in 1966, the IEEE David Sarnoff Award in 1966, co-recipient of the first IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award in 1978, the IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984 and the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1986. He was co-recipient of the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1966. In 1982 and 1989, he received the Holley Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He was elected to member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 1967, received the Academy’s Vladimir K. Zworykin Award in 1975, and was co-recipient of the first NAE’s Charles Stark Draper Prize in 1989. The Kilby Award Foundation was founded in 1980 in his honor.
He is also the recipient of the nation’s most prestigious honors in science and engineering: the National Medal of Science in 1969 and the National Medal of Technology in 1990. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
In 1993 he was awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize by the Inamori Foundation. He was awarded both the Washington Award, administered by the Western Society of Engineers and the Eta Kappa Nu Vladimir Karapetoff Award in 1999. In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his breakthrough discovery, and delivered his personal view of the industry and its history in his acceptance speech.
Kilby was awarded nine honorary doctorate degrees from Universities including Southern Methodist University, the University of Miami, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Texas A&M University, Yale and Rochester Institute of Technology. The National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Taiwan awarded Kilby with a certificate of Honorary Professorship in 1998.
The Kilby Center, TI's research center for silicon manufacturing, is named after him.
The Jack Kilby Computer Centre at the Merchiston Campus of Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh is also named in his honor.[