Great Bend High School grad and Nobel Prize laureate Jack Kilby made his first successful demonstration of the microchip was on Sept. 12, 1958. He filed for his first patent revolutionary technology 54 years ago Wednesday.
An electrical engineer, Kilby invented the integrated circuit, aka the microchip while working for Texas Instruments. By definition the integrated circuit or microchip is a set of interconnected electronic components such as transistors and resistors, that are etched or imprinted on a onto a tiny chip of a semiconducting material, such as silicon or germanium.
The microchip shrunk the size and cost of making electronics and impacted the future designs of all computers and other electronics.
“I’ve always thought of Great Bend as my hometown and I’ve been proud of that,” said when visiting the community in 2001. “I’ve also been proud I went to Great Bend High School.”
Great Bend is equally proud of Kilby. In April of 2012, a massive bronze sculpture created by local artist Chet Cale was dedicated at a plaza in front of the Barton County Courthouse. Entitled “The Gift,” it depicts Kilby presenting his microchip to children, symbolic of the past melding into the future.
Kilby was born on Nov. 8 1923, in Jefferson City, Mo., but was raised in Great Bend. He participated in band, football and basketball while at GBHS, graduating in 1941.
He was remembered as being quiet and soft spoken, but kind and good natured. He was also a World War II Army veteran.
Road signs at the entrances to the community commemorate his time there, and an area at Great Bend High School has been named the Jack Kilby Commons Area. Barton Community College also holds an annual Jack Kilby Science Day.
He died on June 20, 2005, in Dallas, Texas.
He earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.
In 1947, he began working for Globe Union of Milwaukee, where he designed ceramic silk-screen circuits for electronic devices. In 1958, Kilby began working for Texas Instruments of Dallas, where the microchip was invented.
From 1978 to 1984, Kilby was a Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. In 1970, Kilby received the National Medal of Science. In 1982, Kilby was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
The Kilby Awards Foundation, which annually honors individuals for achievements in science, technology, and education, was established by Kilby. He was awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the integrated circuit.
Kilby was awarded more than 60 patents for his inventions. Using the integrated circuit Kilby designed and co-invented the first pocket-sized calculator called the “Pocketronic”.
He also invented the thermal printer that was used in portable data terminals. For many years Kilby was involved in the invention of solar powered devices.