Consider this the golden jubilee for silicon, the world’s favourite metalloid. Today marks the 50th anniversary of a U.S. patent for the modern integrated circuit, more commonly known as the microchip, the technical cornerstone of the modern information age.
It’s unclear whether to celebrate or mourn, since no single invention has made so many aspects of life simpler and more complicated at the same time.
The name on the 1961 patent belongs to Robert Noyce, who would go on to found the microchip giant Intel. But as is common in invention circles, Noyce didn’t get there alone. In the late 1950s, Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments -the father of the pocket calculator -came up with the first patented integrated circuit on a wafer of another metalloid called germanium.
Noyce, working in parallel on the East Coast, used a far more common substance: silicon. It is a superior electrical conductor, though it needs to be refined to extreme purity, and up until that time, there was no easy manufacturing process to do so. However, that obstacle was soon cleared, and whereas both men were content to be called co-inventors of the microchip, only Noyce earned the honorific Mayor of Silicon Valley.
Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
Learn resistor values with Mho’s Resistance or get the best electronics calculator for engineers “Circuit Playground” – Adafruit’s Apps!
Maker Business — How Intel Makes a Chip
Wearables — Tape tactics
Electronics — Ground connections cooler via more vias
Biohacking — Itch Tracker for Apple Watch
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.