Kilby, Jack S., 1923-

Alternative names
Birth 1923-11-08
Death 2005-06-20

Biographical notes:

Physicist. Won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physics.

From the description of Oral history interview with Jack S. Kilby [videorecording] / conducted by Donald E. Meyer for the History Committee of the AVS at the 44th Symposium, 1997 October. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83717735

Electronics engineer.

From the description of Oral history interview with Jack S. Kilby, 1984 June 21. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63289552

Engineer and inventor. Full name: Jack St. Clair Kilby. Died 2005.

From the description of Jack S. Kilby papers, 1878-2003 (bulk 1970-1998). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71132937

Kilby, who later won the Nobel Prize, is credited as an inventor of the world's first integrated circuit (computer chip).

From the description of Jack Kilby Manuscript, 1951. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 154305921

Nobel laureate Jack St. Clair Kilby is best known for his invention of the monolithic integrated circuit, also known as the microchip, in 1958 while employed at Texas Instruments (TI) in Dallas, Texas. This breakthrough laid the conceptual and technical foundation for the entire field of modern microelectronics which made such devices as personal computers, cell-phones, hand-held calculators and portable GPS systems possible in today’s information age.

Born November 8, 1923 in Jefferson City, Missouri, Kilby grew up in Great Bend, Kansas. At a young age, Kilby possessed an early interest in electronics and radios influenced by his electrical-engineer father, who was president of the Kansas Power Company. This interest led him to becoming a fully licensed radio ham in his teenage years and convinced him that he wanted to study Electrical Engineering.

He began his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, but four months after enrolling, in 1943, he joined the Army and served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Burma and China, spending the duration as a radio repairman.

After the war, Kilby completed his undergraduate studies and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1947. In 1950, he received his master’s from the University of Wisconsin. Continuing his studies at the University of Wisconsin, he received his master’s in 1950. He began his career in 1947 as an employee of Centralab Division of Globe Union, Inc., an electronic components manufacturer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, developing ceramic-base, silk-screened circuits for consumer electronic products. Kilby joined Dallas based Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) in June 1958.

During the summer of that year, working with improvised equipment, he conceived and built the first electronic circuit in which all the components were fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip. Before this integration, the single parts had to be connected using small wires, limiting large scale production. Kilby’s innovation launched a technological revolution.

Kilby continued to work at TI as an engineer and administrator, also co-inventing both the hand-held calculator and the thermal printer until taking a leave of absence to become an independent consultant and inventor in 1970. Kilby’s body of work includes more than 60 patents. Kilby also held the rank of Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University from 1978-1984.

Recognition of Kilby’s outstanding achievements have been made by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), including award of Fellow grade in 1966, the David Sarnoff Medal in 1966, co-recipient of the IEEE Cledo Brunetti award in 1978, The IEEE Centennial Medal in 1984 and the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1986. He was co-recipient of the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballentine Medal in 1966. In 1982 and 1989, he received the Holley Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME.) He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and received the Academy’s Vladimir K. Zworykin Award in 1975, and was co-recipient of the NAE’s Charles Stark Draper Prize in 1989. He was awarded the nation’s most prestigious honors in science and engineering: the National Medal of Science in 1969 and the National Medal of Technology in 1990. In 1982, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Kilby was awarded the prodigious Kyoto Prize by the Inamori Foundation in 1993, the Washington Award, administered by the Western Society of Engineers in 1999 and in 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Kilby holds nine honorary doctorate degrees from Universities including Southern Methodist University.

Kilby’s interests were not limited to the field of engineering. He was also an accomplished and prolific photographer; working with a medium format Hasselblad 500C camera to produce images of varying subject matter. He printed his photographs in his personal darkroom. He was recognized for various photography awards. He also enjoyed woodworking and making furniture.

Kilby died June 20, 2005 at the age of 81, in Dallas, Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Annegers Kilby, whom he married in 1948 and survived by his two daughters, Ann and Janet Kilby and five grandchildren.


Pirtle III, Caleb, Engineering the World, Stories from the First 75 Years of Texas Instruments . Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press: 2005.

Jack St. Clair Kilby obituaries in Dallas Morning News (Jun 21, 2005) and The Independent (London) (June 30, 2005)

From the guide to the Jack Kilby papers A2006. 0032., 1923-2005, 1958-1970, (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Jack St. Clair Kilby (1923-2005) was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, November 8, 1923. While he was a boy, his family moved to Great Bend, Kansas. His father, Hubert S. ("Jack") Kilby, was president of the Kansas Power Company. Young Jack’s penchant for photography and electronics began during his youth in Great Bend. Kilby was influenced by his father’s interest in photography and his career in engineering. While Kilby was in high school, instead of the Kodak snapshot camera found in most households, the family had a medium format 120 film camera and a Kodak Bantam, a small camera for the more advanced photographer. The Kilbys had a darkroom in their home, and young Jack was in the high school camera club and served as photographer for the yearbook. His sister, Jane, remembered, "Jack enjoyed photography a great deal, but after the 1937 blizzard, he became terribly interested in ham radio…He would contact people from all over the place." The severe ice storm had taken out telephone and power lines and blocked roads in the area, so that the only way the senior Mr. Kilby could communicate across the state was through ham radio. Kilby saw this as a decisive moment in his life and mentioned it years later when he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000: "My dad’s goal was to do whatever it took to run his business and to help people, but I thought that amateur radio was a fascinating subject. It sparked my interest in electronics, and that’s when I decided that this field was something I wanted to pursue."

In 1941, Kilby enrolled in the school of engineering at the University of Illinois. He eventually worked as photographer for the yearbook there, too. American involvement in World War II interrupted his college career, however, and Kilby entered active duty in the Army in 1943. He took the Bantam camera with him to the China, Burma, India (CBI) theater where he was stationed as an enlisted radio transmitter repair man. While overseas, Kilby made black and white photographs and Kodachrome slides of the base camp, and military and civilian activities in the area. After he was discharged from the Army in December 1945, Kilby returned to the University of Illinois. There was probably little time for photography for the next few years as he finished his degree in electrical engineering, married Barbara Annegers, and joined Centralab, an electronics company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The idea of miniaturizing electronic circuits piqued Kilby’s interest at Centralab, and he wanted more time to experiment than was afforded him there. His job search led him to begin work at Texas Instruments in Dallas in the spring of 1958. While the TI employees took their "annual mass vacation" during the summer, Kilby, having just joined the company, stayed in Dallas and worked alone on his ideas for electrical circuits, making detailed notes and drawings. His demonstration of the microchip in September is now history.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Kilby made Kodachrome slides of his daughters, Ann and Janet, family trips, and other events in their lives. In 1964, he decided to take up photography in a more serious way, and he began using the best in medium format cameras, the Hasselblad 500C. Kilby printed his own black and white negatives and showed real ingenuity in composing his images, and in manipulating and cropping his prints. Extreme camera angles often gave his images an abstract pattern, sometimes like a geometric grid. Although he made color negatives too, he seldom had them enlarged, probably preferring to make darkroom modifications himself which were not possible for him with color film that required outside processing. As a photographer, the subjects he chose fall into several general categories: urban and street photography, industrial, landscape, and people as well as abstraction and experimentation.

One can speculate on the external influences that might have impacted Kilby’s photography. An avid reader, Kilby subscribed to Camera magazine in the 1960s and 1970s. Removed from mainstream photographic trends in such cities as New York or London, Kilby worked in relative isolation in Dallas, and Camera, a quality international art photography periodical, was an important resource for him. Kilby visited galleries and museums in other cities and purchased books. Over time, he developed his own personal style. Kilby exchanged ideas with other photographers at the Dallas Camera Club and also joined the Photographic Society of America (PSA). He exhibited his prints both locally with the Camera Club and nationally at the PSA photography salons.

Although he kept close ties with TI, in 1970, Kilby took a leave of absence to work as an independent inventor. During his career, Kilby applied for more than 60 patents and worked on a wide variety of designs, many of which eventually became a reality, among them, the digital watch. In 1981, Kilby’s wife, Barbara, died, and with her, it seemed, something of the light in his life was gone. By the mid-1980s Kilby was no longer active in photography. His photographic output in roughly 20 years, however, was prodigious. Creativity was a driving force in his work and in his photography. Jack Kilby died in Dallas June 20, 2005.

From the guide to the Jack Kilby photographs Ag2006. 0010 and Ag2006. 0010x., ca. 1900-2005, (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

Biographical Note

  • 1923, Nov. 8: Born, Jefferson City, Mo.
  • 1943 - 1945 : Enlisted in United States Army Signal Corps and later served with the Office of Strategic Services
  • 1947: B.S., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill.
  • 1947 - 1958 : Engineer, Centralab, a division of Globe-Union Corp., Milwaukee, Wis.
  • 1948: Married Barbara Annegers
  • 1950: M.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
  • 1958: Invented the monolithic integrated circuit
  • 1958 - 1970 : Engineer, Texas Instruments, responsible for integrated circuit development and applications
  • 1969: Awarded National Medal of Science
  • 1970: Director of engineering and technology for the Components Group
  • 1970 - circa 1997 : Independent consultant
  • 1978 - 1984 : Professor of electrical engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Tex.
  • 1982: Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, United States Patent Office
  • 1989: Awarded Charles Stark Draper Prize, National Academy of Engineering
  • 1990: Awarded National Medal of Technology
  • 1993: Awarded Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology
  • 2000: Awarded Nobel Prize in physics
  • 2005, June 20: Died, Dallas, Tex.

From the guide to the Jack S. Kilby Papers, 1878-2003, (bulk 1970-1998), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


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  • Wrist watches
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  • Electronics--History
  • World War, 1939-1945--China
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