Jack Kilby: Bringing in the Future

Think about the electronic things people use every day. They have calculators and computers. They use cell phones, iPods, fax machines, and even smart watches. Do you know what all these things have in common? It's the microchip.

In 1958, Jack Kilby joined Texas Instruments as an electronics engineer. His chosen field was miniaturizing electronic components.

One of the big problems engineers were fighting was called the "tyranny of numbers." At that time machines that processed information used vacuum tubes in addition to transistors. The tubes created a lot of heat and had a short life, while all of the transistors used many connections. Each of the connections for the transistors had to be made by hand. The more connections there were, the easier it was for something to go wrong.

Jack Kilby came up with the idea to put a transistor and other components on a single chip made of germanium. He presented his working invention to Texas Instrument company management. Kilby's integrated circuit would go on to revolutionize the electronics industry.

Kilby turned the electronic engineering field on its ear. What kind of man could do such a thing? The answer might surprise you.

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