Calculating…

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In an effort to keep me somewhat focused, I’m going for themes now. This month’s theme is computers! Yay! I’m not going to go crazy deep into the towering history of computing. I will just be following the internet wherever it would like to lead me on the subject until something snags my tiny brain.

The first snag I hit was the Victor 3900. It was released in 1965 by the Victor Comptometer Corporation out of Illinois. It is a desktop calculator and the first calculator to utilize integrated circuits. In the 60s integrated circuits (IC) were being used by the military, space program and for those friggin’ huge mainframe computers that were bigger than my apartment is.

ICs were created at Texas Instruments by a guy named Jack Kilby in 1958. He was an electrical engineer for Texas Instruments at the time. He came up with the idea while working in their labs over a holiday break. The IC is an electric circuit that has been formed on a semi-conducting material instead of discrete components. It was a more reliable, cheaper-to-make product. The weight, power consumption and space needed for it was also greatly reduced. Kilby’s first design wasn’t perfect, but it started engineers on the path to our modern day micro-chip. The influence of this invention is incalculable and very present in daily American life. Provided you use or are around electronics. If you live in a cabin atop a mountain, you probably do not benefit from this development.

If you are interested in Kilby and, his eventual cohort, Noyce check out the Nobel site.