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The passing of an unsung hero


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#1 jraef

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 05:23 PM

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!"

#2 marke

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 07:42 PM

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,

#3 jraef

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 03:54 AM

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!"

#4 Subhashish

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 09:19 AM

........ Really a hero ..........
world with out IC's .... bulky electronics around
........ difficult to imagine . Saw a paragraph in newspaper
a day after he passed away . world should have
definately placed his name with greatest scientific
contributors of our age.

best regards

#5 mixit

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:14 PM

Here-here to all... thanks Jack!




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