ABINGDON, England ( ChipWire) -- Jack Kilby, an inventor of the integrated circuit, is joining the board of directors ofBookham Technology Ltd. here, a pioneer in the development of integrated optical components.
The move, a public relations coup for Bookham Technology, will see the 76-year-old Kilby working as a non-executive director for the company. Andrew Rickman, founder, president and CEO of Bookham Technology, said, "It feels like being the 'anointed one' -- it's a fantastic endorsement of the business."
Kilby is best known for inventing the monolithic IC in 1958, when he was working for Texas Instruments Inc. The late <Robert Noyce, who was working at Fairchild Semiconductor in the same period and later founded Intel Corp., is separately recognized as inventor of the IC.
"Looking back we can see that 1958 was a crossroads in the development of technology," said Kilby. "It's possible that in 40 years' time we'll be looking back at a similar crossroads, the development of optical ICs. I see strong parallels between what I set out to achieve with the first electronic IC, and what Bookham Technology has achieved today -- high-volume manufacturing technology producing innovative solutions for growing markets."
Rickman called Kilby "the most significant engineer alive today." He said Kilby took the role with Bookham after hearing about the company through Skip Porter, another non-executive director of Bookham, with whom Kilby once worked.
Kilby will add to Bookham's team in a couple of ways, Rickman said. "He has a door-opening ability and contact network that is phenomenal," he said.
"It's just amazing -- I've just framed the form he had to sign to register as a director of the company," Rickman said. "It's a complete dream as far as I'm concerned."
Privately-held Bookham was founded in 1989 and has since received $90 million in funding from investors including Intel, Cisco Systems, Scientific Atlanta and U.K.-based investment company 3i. Bookham has used the money to develop a range of silicon integrated optical components for fibre-optic transceivers, and to develop the low-cost volume manufacturing techniques that have been implemented at the company's manufacturing facilities in Milton Park, Oxfordshire.
Kilby holds over 60 U.S. patents. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He has been awarded the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal, the NAE's Vladimir Zworykin Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Holley Medal, and the IEEE's Medal of Honour, Cledo Brunetti Award, and David Sarnoff Award. --Luke Collins is an editor of Electronics Times, a U.K.-based sister publication of EE Times.