The microchip celebrates 50th birthday
September the 12th 2008 - the 50th birthday of the microchip. If Jack Kilby had been allowed holiday leave we might never have got the microchip or at least not as soon. In 50 years the chip has changed the world. Happy Birthday!
The first working microchip, or integrated circuit, was demonstrated at Texas Instruments by one of the company’s newest employees, Jack Kilby, on September 12, 1958.
It consisted of a strip of germanium with one transistor and other components all glued to a glass slide.
In July that year Kilby had not been allowed to go on holiday because he had only just joined the company.
He used the time to try to solve the problem of how to connect up a large number of electronic components in elaborate circuits in a cost-effective and efficient way.
He realised that all the components could be made from the same semiconducting material (in the first chip germanium, but these days silicon) and could be created in situ to form a complete circuit.
His rough device, measuring seven 16ths of an inch (11.5 millimetres) by one 16th of an inch, revolutionised electronics, and the world.
The microchip virtually created the modern computer industry, and the internet would be unthinkable without it. Modern communications, transport, medicine, manufacturing and commerce are all based on the remarkable processing power of microchips.