June 21, 2005 – One of the semiconductor industry’s first breakthrough pioneers, Jack Kilby, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics for co-inventing the IC, died yesterday at the age of 81. Kilby held more than 60 patents, but his most famous came out of his early work at Texas Instruments in 1959: a solid circuit made from germanium, developed for the US Army Signal Corps.
A similar device made from silicon was later patented by Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor, later cofounder of Intel Corp. (Ironically, in 1995 Kilby received the Semiconductor Industry Association’s [SIA] Robert Noyce Award, its highest honor.)
“In my opinion, there are only a handful of people whose works have truly transformed the world and the way we live in it: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Jack Kilby,” said TI chairman Tom Engibous in a statement. “Jack was a man with every right to be boastful, yet never was.”
In addition to his IC contributions, Kilby also had a hand in inventing the handheld calculator and thermal printer used in portable data terminals, and later investigated how to use silicon technology to generate electrical power from sunlight.