In mid-1958, as a newly employed engineer at Texas Instruments, Kilby did not yet have the right to vacation time, so he spent the summer working on the problem in circuit design that was commonly called the "tyranny of numbers" and finally came to the conclusion that manufacturing the circuit components en masse in a single piece of semiconductor material could provide a solution. On September 12 he presented his findings to management: a piece of germanium with an oscilloscope attached; he pressed a switch, and the oscilloscope showed a continuous sine wave, proving that his integrated circuit worked and thus that he had solved the problem. U.S. Patent 3,138,743 for "Miniaturized Electronic Circuits", the first integrated circuit, was filed on February 6, 1959. Along with Robert Noyce (who independently made a similar circuit a few months later), Kilby is generally credited as co-inventor of the integrated circuit.
Kilby went on to pioneer military, industrial, and commercial applications of microchip technology. He headed teams that built both the first military system and the first computer incorporating integrated circuits and later co-invented both the hand-held calculator and the thermal printer that was used in portable data terminals. In 1970, he took a leave of absence from TI to work as an independent inventor. He explored, among other subjects, the use of silicon technology for generating electrical power from sunlight. From 1978 to 1984 he held the position of Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. In 1983, he retired from Texas Instruments.
He is also the recipient of the nation’s most prestigious honors in science and engineering: the National Medal of Science in 1969 and the National Medal of Technology in 1990. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his breakthrough discovery. He died of cancer on June 20, 2005 at the age of 81 in Dallas, and encrypted in Sparkman-Hillcrest Cemetery.
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Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery