February, 6, 1959. On this date, Jack Kilby – who had just started working for Texas Instruments – filed a patent application for the integrated circuit, also known as a microchip. This kind of circuit sits on a small plate or chip of silicon or some other semiconductor material. Kilby is considered the co-inventor of the circuit along with Robert Noyce, who discovered it independently.
The low cost of integrated circuits revolutionized the electronics industry. It made cheaper computers and mobile phones possible. For his work, Kilby won the 2000 Nobel Prize in physics. In an interview with Texas Instruments before his death in 2005, he partially attributed his success to being a new employee bereft of vacation time, saying:
The [time for] cost analysis gave me my first insight into the cost structure of a semiconductor house.
Bottom line: On February, 6, 1959, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments filed a patent application for the integrated circuit, or microchip.
Elizabeth Howell is an award-winning Canadian journalist who can't stop talking about space and science. As a teenager, she saw the movie Apollo 13 and wanted to be an astronaut. That hasn't happened - yet - but at least she gets to write about them. Elizabeth's favourite career moments so far include attending three shuttle launches, and legitimately writing the word "snot" into a Mars Curiosity story. Besides EarthSky, you can read Elizabeth's work in SPACE.com, Universe Today, SEN.com, All About Space and other fun places. Elizabeth's space obsession extends to her hobbies; she's a big fan of Battlestar: Galactica and has met all five TV Star Trek captains. She even visited Captain Kirk's future birthplace in small-town Iowa.