Saturday, September 13, 2008

Microchip celebrates five decade milestone

(While ISA detention is still the hot breaking news....thanks to the person who had contributed to our current modern life....)

When Jack Kilby demonstrated the first working integrated circuit in Texas in 1958, he could have had no idea how his invention would change the world.
Now 50 years later, microchips are integral to modern-day life in devices as wide-ranging as computers to credit cards, cameras to cookers.
Kilby's design used a strip of germanium, rather than silicon, with one transister and other components glued on to a glass slide.
In July, the electrical engineer had not been allowed to go on holiday because he had only recently joined the company Texas Instruments. Kilby used the time to create his ground-breaking design, which tackled the problem of connecting large numbers of electronic components in circuits in a cost-effective way.
Jim Tully, vice president at the technology analyst Gartner said the microchip slashed the cost in producing electronics, which allowed the technology to spread rapidly through all areas of society.
'Integrated circuits are so woven into our lives that it would be hard to imagine a world without them,' Tully said.
'The integrated circuit is the engine of the information age. It facilitates mass communication through mobile phones and large-scale access to information and entertainment through the internet.
'But how do we compare these benefits with the life-saving use of integrated circuits in body scanners, pacemakers and other medical systems? The integrated circuit has benefited society in countless ways.'
In the 1940s, computers took up whole rooms but microchips made them millions to billions of times more capable while occupying a fraction of the space.
Manufacturing costs were kept low because the chips were printed with all their components as a unit.
The first circuits contained transistors numbering in their tens, but by the 1970s each chip was able to hold tens of thousands of transistors.
This has mushroomed to hundreds of thousands of transistors by the 1980s and the birth of personal computers.
By the time Jack Kilby died in 2005 aged 81, they contained several billion transistors. The industry shows no signs of slowing down.