4-20-15-Jack_Kilby 4-20-15 first handheld calculator

Monday, April 20, 2015

In 1958 Jack Kilby, an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments, developed the first integrated circuit (IC). Six months later Robert Norton Noyce, later nicknamed the “Mayor of Silicon Valley” improved Kilby’s IC. While scientists recognized the potential of the new technology, Texas Instruments needed to quickly incorporate ICs into new products that the public would want to buy.

In 1964 Jack Kilby, Jerry Merryman, and James Van Tassel were assigned to a team to develop a calculator powerful enough to compute basic functions and fit in the palm of your hand. The prototype they developed was about six inches tall. A portable all-transistor desktop calculator just released in 1963 weighed 55 pounds and cost $2,500.

Within three years the team filed a patent application for the new calculator with integrated circuits able to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The device had 18 small keys and displayed up to 12 decimal digits on a small screen. Texas Instrument’s handheld calculator was released commercially in 1972 and quickly replaced the slide rule as the calculating instrument carried by engineers, scientists, businesspeople, and students. As technologies developed calculators got smaller, more powerful, and less expensive. By the mid-1970s pocket calculators were available everywhere.

Jack Kilby was awarded the Noble Prize for Physics on December 10, 2000. President Bill Clinton wrote to Mr. Kilby, “You can take pride in the knowledge that your work will help to improve lives for generations to come.”


First hand held calculator

Jack Kilby

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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