22 June 2005

Jack Kilby, dead at 81


It's always amazing when you find out that you don't even know the name of someone who helped create much of the world you live in.

I remember when I first read Kilby's name, I wondered why he wasn't more famous — he'd won a Nobel prize and was an inventor of the calculator, which would have been laurels enough for most of us to rest on. But he also invented the integrated circuit, thus making him an indirect creator of everything electronic.

Even here in Cambodia, glancing around my office I see a laptop, mouse, headset, cell phone, desk phone, air conditioner, remote control for the A/C, and a laser printer. Every one of those things has at least one integrated circuit in it; the laptop has many. Jack Kilby changed my life, and yours, too.