Happy Birthday Microchip!

Seriously, as much as I think I’d love to live in the 50s I don’t know what I’d do without my microchips. Happy birthday big guy!

Kilby Solid Circuit

From Wired Magazine:

Consisting of five components linked by a tangle of wires, the first integrated circuit wasn’t particularly pretty. But it did prove that a device could be built with all its circuit components on the same piece of semiconducting material — in this case germanium — rather than using individual, discrete parts.

The circuit was the handiwork of Kilby, who was trying to solve the so-called “tyranny of numbers” problem. Though the invention of the transistor more than a decade earlier at Bell Labs had rendered vacuum tubes obsolete, engineers faced a vexing new problem by the late ’50s: All those discrete components — transistors, diodes, capacitors and the like — still had to be connected manually to form electronic circuits. This was impractical for obvious reasons, so Kilby came up with a new solution.

Realizing that the semiconductor was really the most-important ingredient in the circuit stew, he found that other passive components — like resistors and capacitors — could actually be made from the same material as the semiconductor. “I … realized that, since all of the components could be made of a single material, they could also be made in situinterconnect to form a complete circuit,” Kilby explained in his 1976 article, “Invention of the IC.”