Today in History – April 25, 1961 – Robert Noyce and Fairchild awarded patent for the integrated circuit.
Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce at the small Fairchild Semiconductor start-up company were both working on the concept of an integrated circuit in 1958. Prior to this invention, only parts of a circuit – such as the transistor – were fabricated using semiconductor technology. Even though some of the other parts were composed of substrates using germanium or silicon, they were soldered together on other substrates to form the circuit. The integrated circuit concept was to make all of the parts, such as the capacitors and resistors, and their connections out of silicon on a single chip. By September 12, Kilby had built a working model.
On February 6, 1959 Kilby applied for a patent and Texas Instruments was issued U.S. patent # 3,138,743 in 1964 for “Miniaturized electronic circuits”.
Noyce was aware of the work at Texas Instruments and was careful to improve on their design and submitted a more detailed patent application on July 30, 1959. On April 25, 1961, the patent office awarded Robert Noyce the first patent for an integrated circuit, while Kilby’s application was still being analyzed. Both Fairchild and Texas Instruments introduced commercial ICs in 1961
Today, both men are acknowledged as having independently conceived of the idea and are given credit as the inventors of the integrated circuit. Kilby was co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000. Most believe that Robert Noyce would have shared this prize had he been alive. (Nobel Prizes cannot be awarded posthumously.)
Jack Kilby is also well known as the inventor of the portable calculator in 1967 and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1970. Robert Noyce co-founded Intel in 1968.