Modest Inventor Who Changed The World

TEXAS History

The month after bringing home the Nobel Prize for Physics, Jack Kilby found himself back in the spotlight on Jan. 16, 2001 as the Texas legislature honored the creator of the microchip.

Everyone who has ever used a calculator, cell phone, digital camera, pacemaker or the multitude of other high-tech gadgets that present-day inhabitants of this planet take for granted owes a debt of gratitude to the unassuming genius who made it all possible. But he would have been the last person to remind anybody of that.

Although many sources cite Jefferson City, Missouri as his birthplace, Jack St. Clair Kilby clearly disagreed. In the autobiographical statement requested by the Nobel Committee, he wrote, “I was born in 1923 in Great Bend, Kansas.”

That explains why Kilby grew up in a small town in the heart of the Sunflower State, where his father owned a small electric company. “My dad’s goal was to do whatever it took to run his business and help people, but I thought that amateur radio was a fascinating subject. It sparked my interest in electronics.”

 

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