My Favorite Invention: The Modern Computer Chip
The Modern Computer was made in 1958 by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.
"What we didn't realize then was that the integrated circuit would reduce the cost of electronic functions by a factor of a million to one, nothing had ever done that for anything" ~Jack Kilby.
It seems that the integrated circuit was destined to be invented. Two seperate inventors, unaware of wach other's activities, invented almost identical integrated circuits or ICs at nearly the same time.
Jack Kilby, an engineer with a backround in ceramic-based silk screen circuit boards and transistor-based hearing aids, started working for Texas instruments in 1958. A year earlier, research engineer Robert Noyce had co-founded the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. From 1958 to 1959, both electrical engineers were working on a dilemma: how to make more of less.
In designing a complex electronic machine like a computer it was always necessary to increase the number of components involved in order to make technical advances. The monolithic (formed from a single crystal) integrated circuit placed the previously separated transitors, resistors, capacitors and all the connecting wiring onto a single crystal (or 'chip') made of semiconductor material. Kilby used germanium and Noyce used silicon for the semiconductor material.
In 1959 both parties applied for patents. Jack Kilby and Texas Instruments received U.S. patent #3,138,743 for miniaturized electronic circuits. Robert Noyce and the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation received U.S. patent #2,981,877 for a silicon based integrated circuit. The two companies wisely decided to cross license their technologies after several years of legal battles, creating a global market now worth about $1 trillion a year.
In 1961 the first commercially available integrated circuits came from the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. All computers then started to be made using chips instead of the individual transistors and their accompanying parts. Texas Instruments first used the chips in Air Force computers and the Minuteman Missile in 1962. They later used the chips to produce the first electronic portable calculators. The original IC had only one transistor, three resistors and one capacitor and was the size of an adult's pinkie finger. Today an IC smaller than a penny can hold 125 million transistors.
Jack Kilby now holds patents on over sixty inventions and is also well known as the inventor of the portable calculator (1967). In 1970 he was awarded the National Medal of Science. Robert Noyce, with sixteen patents to his name, founded Intel, the company responsible for the invention of the microprocesser, in 1968. But for both men, the invention of the integrated circuit stands historically as one of the most important innovation of mankind. Almost all modern products use chip technology.
Top Ten Best Inventors:
1. Thomas Edison 1847-1931, the first great invention developed by Thomas Edison was the tin foil phonograph. A prolific producer, Edison is also know for his work with lightbulbs, electricity, film and audio devices, and much more.
2. Alexander Graham Bell 1847-1869, In 1876, at the age of 29, Alexander Graham Bell invented his telephone. Among one of his first innovations after the telephone was the "photophone," a device that enabled sound to be transmitted on a beam of light.
3. George Washington Carver 1864-1943, George Washington Carver was an agricultural chemist who invented three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes; and changed the history of agriculture in the south.
4. Eli Whitney 1765-1825, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794. The cotton gin is a machine that separates seeds, hulls and other unwanted materials from cotton after it has been picked.
5. Johannes Gutenberg 1394-1468, Johannes Gutenberg was a German goldsmith and inventor best known for the Gutenberg press, an innovative printing machine that used movable type.
6. John Logie Baird 1888-1946, John Logie Baird is remembered as the inventor of mechanical television (an earlier version of television). Baird also patented inventions related to radar and fiber optics.
7. Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, the iron furnace stove or 'Franklin Stove', bifocal glasses, and the odometer.
8. Henry Ford 1863-1947, Henry Ford improved the "assembly line" for automobile manufacturing, received a patent for a transmission mechanism, and popularized the gas-powered car with the Model-T.
9. James Naismith 1861-1939, James Naismith was a Canadian physical education instructor who invented basketball in 1891.
10. Herman Hollerith 1860-1929, Herman Hollerith invented a punch-card tabulation machine system for statistical computation. Herman Hollerith's great breakthrough was his use of electricity to read, count, and sort punched cards whose holes represented data gathered by the census-takers. His machines were used for the 1890 census and accomplished in one year what would have taken nearly ten years of hand tabulating.
Top Ten Inventions:
1. The Telephone
The telephone is an instrument that converts voice and sound signals into electrical impulses for transmission by wire to a different location, where another telephone receives the electrical impulses and turns them back into recognizable sounds. In 1875, Alexander Graham Bell built the first telephone that transmitted electrically the human voice.
2. The History of Computers
There are many major milestones in the history of computers, starting with 1936, when Konrad Zuse built the first freely programmable computer.
In 1884, Paul Nipkow sent images over wires using a rotating metal disk technology with 18 lines of resolution. Television then evolved along two paths, mechanical based on Nipkow's rotating disks, and electronic based on the cathode ray tube. American Charles Jenkins and Scotsman John Baird followed the mechanical model while Philo Farnsworth, working independently in San Francisco, and Russian émigré Vladimir Zworkin, working for Westinghouse and later RCA, advanced the electronic model.
4. The Automobile
In 1769, the very first self-propelled road vehicle was invented by French mechanic, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. However, it was a steam-powered model. In 1885, Karl Benz designed and built the world's first practical automobile to be powered by an internal-combustion engine. In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler took the internal combustion engine a step further and patented what is generally recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine and later built the world's first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
5. The Cotton Gin, Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin on March 14, 1794. The cotton gin is a machine that separates seeds, hulls and other unwanted materials from cotton after it has been picked.
6. The Camera, in 1814, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce created the first photographic image with a camera obscura, however, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre is considered the inventor of the first practical process of photography in 1837.
7. The Steam Engine, Thomas Savery was an English military engineer and inventor who in 1698, patented the first crude steam engine. Thomas Newcomen invented the atmospheric steam engine in 1712. James Watt improved Newcomen's design and invented what is considered the first modern steam engine in 1765.
8. The Sewing Machine, the first functional sewing machine was invented by the French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnier, in 1830. In 1834, Walter Hunt built America's first (somewhat) successful sewing machine. Elias Howe patented the first lockstitch sewing machine in 1846. Isaac Singer invented the up-and-down motion mechanism. In 1857, James Gibbs patented the first chain-stitch single-thread sewing machine. Helen Augusta Blanchard patented the first zig-zag stitch machine in 1873.
9. The Light Bulb, contrary to popular belief, Thomas Alva Edison didn't invent the light bulb, he improved it upon a 50-year-old idea. In 1809, Humphry Davy, an English chemist, invented the first electric light. In 1878, Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, an English physicist, was the first person to invent a practical and longer-lasting electric lightbulb (13.5 hours) with a carbon fiber filament. In 1879, Thomas Alva Edison invented a carbon filament that burned for fourty hours.
10. Penicillin, penicillin, was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Andrew Moyer patented the first method of industrial production of penicillin in 1948.