As you may recall, a few days ago I did a blog on it being the 50 anniversary of the first integrated circuit (IC) (see blog #210601186). In that blog I noted that Jack St. Clair Kilby succeeded in fabricating multiple components on a single piece of semiconductor; that he demonstrated this device to the management of Texas Instruments on 12 September 1958, and that he is therefore credited with the creation of the first integrated circuit.
Well, I just received an email from a somewhat disgruntled reader as follows:
I was disappointed to see the entire credit for the invention of the integrated circuit given to Jack Kilby...
With full respect for Kilby, I have to remind you and your readers that the inventors of the integrated circuit are Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby. Noyce missed the Nobel Prize for this invention because he just died before the prize was awarded and the Nobel committee does not give awards post-mortem.
I have mentioned Noyce and Kilby in that order because Noyce's implementation of the concept of monolithic integration is far closer to the current implementation than Kilby's: his patented integrated circuit structure uses junction isolation and metal interconnect, with the metal adhering to the substrate (key differentiation in the patent battle between Kilby's Texas Instruments and Fairchild's Noyce). Both features are still in use today. Integrated circuits have never been made in mass production without some kind of monolithic isolation (e.g., Noyce's junction isolation), and have never used bonded wires between components (Kilby's interconnect).
I am looking forward toward seeing a correction of your record.
Well, fair enough, mayhap I should have mentioned Robert Noyce. I fully agree that a number of folks were working on different aspects of the integrated circuit problem. As I note in my "History of Calculators and Computers" on the "More Cool Stuff" page of the DIY Calculator website (www.diycalculator.com), around the same time that Kilby was working on his prototype, two of the founders of Fairchild Semiconductors – the Swiss physicist Jean Hoerni and the American physicist Robert Noyce &ndask; were working on more efficient processes for creating these devices. Between them, Hoerni and Noyce invented the optical lithographic techniques that are now used to create transistors, insulating layers, and interconnections on integrated circuits.
However, although manufacturing techniques subsequently took different paths to those used by Kilby (by which I mean they followed the work done by Hoerni and Noyce), to the best of my knowledge Kilby still had his real-world device up and running before anyone else; thus, on this basis, I think it is fair to credit him with the creation of the first integrated circuit.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.