Itâ€™s half a century since the first integrated circuit was demonstrated by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments
Jack Kilby’s first integrated circuit
If it wasnâ€™t for the invention of the integrated circuit, then computers today would probably be housed in huge mahogany cabinets with a baffling array of polished, brass valves, or at least be stuffed into huge boxes containing hand-soldered transistors. We owe a lot of thanks to the integrated circuit, or microchip, which is today celebrating its 50th birthday.
The first microchip (pictured) was first demonstrated by Jack Kilby from Texas Instruments on 12 September 1958. It might not be much to look at, but then Texas Instruments admits that Kilby often remarked that if heâ€™d known heâ€™d be showing the first working integrated circuit for the next 40-plus years, he wouldâ€™ve â€˜prettied it up a little.â€™ The chip worked, though, producing a sine wave on an oscilloscope screen at the demo.
The integrated circuit itself is the germanium strip that you can see in the middle of the glass slide, and it measured 7/16in by 1/16in. With protruding wires, and just containing a single transistor, some resistors and a capacitor, itâ€™s a primitive chip by todayâ€™s standards. However, it opened the gate for mass production of larger-scale chips that could contain more and more transistors without the need for complicated hand-soldering jobs.