Kilby Integrated Circuit

kilbyTransistors had become commonplace in everything from radios to phones to computers, and now manufacturers wanted something even better. Sure, transistors were smaller than vacuum tubes, but for some of the newest electronics, they weren’t small enough.

One day in late July, Jack Kilby was sitting alone at Texas Instruments. He had been hired only a couple of months earlier and so he wasn’t able to take vacation time when practically everyone else did. The halls were deserted, and he had lots of time to think. It suddenly occurred to him that all parts of a circuit, not just the transistor, could be made out of silicon. At the time, nobody was making capacitors or resistors out of semiconductors. If it could be done then the entire circuit could be built out of a single crystal — making it smaller and much easier to produce. Kilby’s boss liked the idea, and told him to get to work. By September 12, Kilby had built a working model, and on February 6, Texas Instruments filed a patent. Their first “Solid Circuit” the size of a pencil point, was shown off for the first time in March.

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