A semiconductor engineer who was the first in the world to propose and corroborate the fundamental concept of the monolithic semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) that laid the foundation for today's leading-edge technology of the LSI and VLSI chips. Further, he contributed greatly to the early stage of monolithic IC development and its practical application. His pioneering contribution is a great asset to the development of microelectronics.
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Dr. Jack St. Clair Kilby is a prominent scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the development of microelectronics. He was the first to propose the fundamental concept of the monolithic integrated circuit, which became the basis of today’s LSI and VLSI technology. He also built the foundation for advancement of IC technology and greatly contributed to its research and development and practical use at the outset.
With the invention of the transistor in the latter half of the 1940s, the then popular vacuum tube technology utilizing “electrons in vacuum” was replaced by a technology employing “electrons in crystals,” ushering in the age of modern electronics.
In 1958, Dr. Kilby developed the idea of a monolithic integrated circuit, putting all components on the same semiconductor. He advocated and demonstrated this concept of constructing an electronic circuit by mounting transistors, resistors and capacitors all on a single semiconductor substrate.
In the following year, Dr. Kilby experimentally made a flip-flop integrated circuit consisting of mesa transistors, bulk resistors, and diffusion capacitors and confirmed its operability. As a leader of a special computer systems development team, he took the initiative in promoting the use of integrated circuit technology and succeeded in developing the world’s first integrated circuit for computers, which became an epoch-making system.
Furthermore, applying this technology to industrial and household use, he developed a prototype of a compact calculator, a pilot model of today’s electronic calculators. By presenting many application examples, Dr. Kilby demonstrated that an integrated circuit using a semiconductor could be applied to an extremely wide range of fields. The impact he created was an extremely important and innovative event in the field of electronic engineering.
It is true that today’s microelectronics was brought about by the invention of many elementary types of technology and the efforts of many engineers. However, the semiconductor IC technology developed by Dr. Kilby had a great impact on the research and development of IC technology thereafter, opening the way to LSI, VLSI, and ULSI, which gave rise to the modern microelectronics industry.
Due to such brilliant achievements, Dr. Jack St. Clair Kilby is most eligible for the 1993 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology.
Today our modern society is almost completely dependent upon technology. Recognition of this dependence has caused writers such as Mumford and Ellul to suggest that technology has run amok, and that steps must be taken to control it.
Such writers are willing to accept much of the progress of the past. They are willing to ride in automobiles or to fly in airplanes but feel that technology has taken on a life or momentum of it own which may lead in undersirable or even dangerous directions. As a consequence, fewer of our young people are choosing careers in science and technology.
I believe that engineering can provide exciting and rewarding careers for the young people who may wish to enter it now. I would like to use my own experience an example.
I grew up in a small town in western Kansas, an area not known for its manufacturing skills. I attended one of the better Midwestern Universities, graduating in 1947.
This was an exciting time to enter the electronics industry. Many new electronic products were being announced. The transistor was invented in that year, a development which would forever change the field. As a consequence, the field of electronics began a rapid expansion which has continued to this day.
As a young engineer, I was offered opportunities to contribute to projects which would make a difference. The most important of these, of course, was the integrated circuit, which has grown to a 75 billion dollars industry, not only in the US but in Japan and around the world.
This has provided me with a very satisfying career. Although my part was a small one, I have had a vantage point from which to see the progress.
I can highly recommend engineering to all young people who may be choosing their life work.