Happy 50th Birthday Integrated Circuit

IC grows up by growing smaller

  • The first handheld, IC-based calculator Early applications for ICs were military (including the Minuteman missile). TI's then-chairman Patrick E. Haggerty set Kilby the challenge of designing a calculator powerful enough to challenge the big electro-mechanical models but small enough to fit in a coat pocket.
  • Gordon Moore: more is better Moore was another early IC pioneer and an Intel founder. The website quotes Moore on the impact of the integrated circuit: "If the auto industry advanced as rapidly as the semiconductor industry, a Rolls Royce would get a half a million miles per gallon, and it would be cheaper to throw it away than to park it."
  • Intel's latest: the Atom microprocessor The Atom is Intel's smallest microprocessor, packing 45 million transistors onto a chip that's less than 25 square millimeters. Eleven of these could fit in an area the size of one US penny. But it's all based on the original concept of the integrated circuit.
  • Intel's 4004 microprocessor In November 1971, Intel unveiled the first customer-programmable microprocessor, the gold-toned 4004. The CPU was one of four chips, instead of the 12 requested, to run the Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation's new Busicom 141-PF printing calculator.
  • The technology breakthrough paved the way for ever-more powerful, ever-smaller computers that are increasingly embedded in our daily lives.

  • Noyce's contribution Six months later, Robert Noyce, then with Fairchild Semiconductor, independently conceived the idea of an integrated circuit. He also had the idea of adding the metal layer last, then removing much of it, leaving in place on the semiconductor material the metal wires that interconnected the various components. It was an idea that made mass production of ICs much more feasible. Noyce went on to co-found Intel.
  • The first IC Kilby showed the first integrated circuit to TI executives on September 12, 1958. He glued a piece of germanium to a glass slide, with wires attached to the metal. When he sent a current through it, the executives saw a sine curve waving across an oscilloscope screen, proof of the completed circuit.
  • The breakthrough TI electrical engineer Jack St. Clair Kilby realized that the components in complex, hand-made electrical circuits. could be created and linked together (integrated) on the same semiconductor material as new-fangled transistors. Shown: Kilby with the original notebook he used to work out the design of the integrated circuit.
  • The first intuition of the IC Wikipedia credits Geoffrey Dummer (Feb 25, 1905 - Sept 16, 2002), a British electronics engineer, with being the first to conceptualize the basic idea of the integrated circuit. In May 1952, Dummer read a paper at the U.S. Electronic Components Symposium, at the conclusion of which he described the basic outline of what Kilby and Noyce finally realized: electronics as a solid block with no connecting wires, but layers of materials with their electronic functions connected by excising parts of the layers.
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