Jump to content

The passing of an unsung hero


Recommended Posts

Monday the 20th of June marked the passing of Jack St. Clair Kilby, the Electrical Engineer who launched our modern age by inventing the silicon semiconductor "chip" in 1958. He was a new-hire engineer at Texas Instruments and everyone else went on vacation except him because he had no time built up. So he had the research lab all to himself for 2 weeks and came up with this monolithic substrate that could act as a switch. He said he did it fast because he knew that they would put him back in a corner when the tenured engineers returned from vacation!


He died in Dallas Texas at the ripe old age of 81. He received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2000, yet the general public is largely unaware of who he was or what he did. IMHO, he should be lauded with the likes of Edison and Herny Ford for changing the way the world works, but alas, it didn't happen in his own time. I for one am turning all my electronic devices off or a moment of "silicon silence" in his honor.


Having started my education at the end of the Slide Rule Era, I was also greatly appreciative of his most successful commercial invention, the electronic calculator in 1965. By the time I hit college, I was able (although barely) to buy one of the first Texas Instruments scientific calculators, thus freeing myself from the fetters of the Slide Rule in my shirt pocket. That transformed my image from "nerd" to "cool engineer with great toys" in the eyes of the fairer sex. This allowed me to eventually procreate, a fate I had previously deemed unattainable as long as I had to carry around that stupid slide rule. As my daughter is about to enter college herself for Bio-Mechanical Engineering, it makes me ponder the power of this one man's inventions.


Thank You Jack.

"He's not dead, he's just pinin' for the fjords!"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Jraef


We had a quarter page in our local paper, so someon noticed!

I agree, this is a very much under acknowledged achiever!!


Bet regards,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You Kiwis are so together!

Nobody here in the US outside of Dallas Texas where he lived and a few computer nerd bloggers paid any heed.



...wait, did I just call myself a nerd?

"He's not dead, he's just pinin' for the fjords!"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...