A Brief History
On February 6, 1959, an engineer at Texas Instruments, Jack Kilby, filed for the first patent for the “integrated circuit,” a small piece of silicon with many circuits called MOSFETs integrated on it, a device we know as the “microchip.”
Incredibly smaller, faster, and cheaper than the circuits that came before the microchip, these little devices have become the backbone of the electronics industry and are found in all sorts of computers, mobile phones, automobiles, industrial machines, and home appliances.
The Metal-Oxide-Silicon that makes up the base material for the microchip is a semi-conductor and gives us the “Silicon” in “Silicon Valley,” the area of California near San Francisco that is the center of innovation and invention in the electronics field.
The replacement for MOS microchips may be made of graphene, gallium nitride, or silicon carbide, and could make the components even faster, smaller, and cheaper.
Question for students (and subscribers): How many microchips can be found in a modern car? (Answer: Between 1000 and 3000!) Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Millis, Ed. Jack St. Clair Kilby: A Man of Few Words. Ed Millis Books, 2008.
Reid, T.R. The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution. Random House, 2001.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Summeyye oz of Jack Kilby’s original integrated circuit, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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