Kilby files patent for IC, February 6, 1959

-February 06, 2018

Jack St. Clair Kilby filed his patent application for the integrated circuit on February 6, 1959, less than six months after the idea came to him.

Kilby first demonstrated a multivibrator circuit of discrete silicon elements in late August 1958 to his then-new employer Texas Instruments. As a new employee, he was not yet entitled to the mass summer vacation that was customary among TI employees at the time. During this relatively quiet time around TI, Kilby first came up with the idea of the IC.

In September 1958, Kilby demonstrated the first IC to TI management. The company was supportive, but the reaction from potential users, specifically military organizations, was mixed. After much debate, a small group within the Air Force picked up on the IC.

Kilby filed for the patent, describing his new device as “a body of semiconductor material ... wherein all the components of the electronic circuit are completely integrated,” the following February. The basic elements used by Kilby -- bulk resistors, junction capacitors, oxide capacitors, mesa transistors, and inductances -- were described, as were the design parameters for each, in the filing. The patent was granted in June.

TI announced the IC at a press conference in New York on March 6, 1959, spurring much debate in engineering circles. Soon the work of other pioneering engineers, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, was highlighted and the road to advancement was laid.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on February 6, 2013 and edited on February 6, 2018.

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