60th Anniversary of…

60th Anniversary of…

Yesterday was the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11.  Today, however, is the 60th anniversary of in the invention of the Microchip.  Ten years ago, today, I was working for Texas Instruments back in Dallas, TX.  I had the privilege of attending a 50th-anniversary celebration.  It was a career highlight.  While Jack Kilby passed on years before, one of his daughters was able to attend and speak at the event.  What a treasure of an experience.

It was neat to see a recreation of the lab jack worked at… ashtrays and all.  It was neat to see with my own eyes, one of the original circuits like the one shown in the image.  It was neat to hear other senior engineers discuss they type of circuit he built to test or prove out the idea of integrating and miniaturizing everything.  You caught a sense of how humble Jack was when you heard how he pulled his Nobel medal out and gave it to the CEO of TI and said it should be with the company.

One of my managers at TI- was a colleague of Jack… who later in both their careers, could stop by and shoot the breeze with Jack when he was working for Raytheon.  Those were fun stories to hear.

The calculator.  I preferred my old HP-48GX and had to hide it while I worked at TI… but even the history of the calculator is fascinating.  The calculator was probably the first “killer app” in the history of modern technology.  TI had this novel, new, revolutionary technology with the invention of the microchip… they kept presenting it at different conferences and publishing about it… and everyone agreed it was revolutionary… but it wasn’t taking off.  The calculator was that “killer app” used to highlight the technology.  Once everyone saw how small the calculator was and saw that this was possible with the microchip, everyone started to get how significant the invention was.  A great example of marketing and technology working together!!!

And my favorite quote from Jack?  When he was asked by a mother what can be done to help teach children to invent new things,he replied: “read them fairy tales.”