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The Chip : How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution Paperback – October 9, 2001
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Satisfying as both biography and basic science text, the book perfectly captures the independence and near-obsessive problem-solving talents of the two men. Though ultimately only one of them (Noyce) ended up with legal rights to the invention, they shared a respect for each other that persisted throughout their careers. Since Kilby won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work, the story is all the more compelling and intriguing over 40 years after the invention. Reid's work uncovers human dimensions we'd never expect to see from 1950s engineering research. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
In addition, the text is littered with errors. "A diode is a dam that blocks current under some conditions and opens it to let electricity flow when the conditions change" is a mighty vague way to say that diodes let current flow one direction and not the reverse. "Materials that have proven the best insulators are indeed those with eight outer electrons" flat out does not parse. Does the material have eight electrons? Is he trying to say that noble gases are the best insulators? "Elements with three or fewer outer electrons are conductors, and those with five or more are insulators" would come as a surprise to metals such as arsenic, antimony or selenium. "Shockley had a reputation for getting the most out of the people who worked for him". I won't even touch that one. "The process that eventually proved best - the process still used today in semiconductor manufacture - was a Bell Labs discovery called diffusion" has so many inaccuracies in one sentence it's hard to know where to start.Read more ›
Before integrated circuits could be produced, the transistor had to be invented. Before that time, switching mechanism, required a vacuum tube to control, amplify and switch the flow of electrons through a circuit. It was the discovery that some semiconductor materials could be doped to have an excess of positive charges or negative charges that provided the breakthrough. A strip of germanium could be doped at each end with differing charges leaving a junction in the middle. The junction worked like a turnstile that could control the flow of current when connected to a battery. Variations in current across these junctions connected in the transistor formation could rectify (prevent current from flowing in both directions) and amplify. That's all that's needed to make a radio (I'm oversimplifying obviously) and hundreds of other devices. Transistors required vastly less current than vacuum tubes, were almost infinitely stable, were cheap and gave off little heat.
But, transistors required thousands of connections to the wires coming in order to make a useful circuit, and as demands for more complex circuitry arose the wiring became infinitely complex.Read more ›
If you have a PhD in electrical engineering, or are a veteran of the industry, you may, on the other hand, feel that this book is too short for your liking.
The book consists of 11 different chapters, each covering an area in the history of the microchip. The first chapter starts with the invention of "the monolith idea" which is the concept that we integrate all the components on one circuit instead of wiring up different smaller and smaller components. Both Bob Noyce and Jack Kilby had this idea at around the same time and both of them are recognized as the inventor of the chip. The second chapter quickly introduces the history of electronics and the invention of the transistor... all the things that happened before before the monolith idea, the basis for the idea. Chapter 3 is the history of Jack Kilby and chapter 4 is the history of Bob Noyce (nicely done). Chapter five discusses the patent case about whether Noyce or Kilby is the first inventor and how this never really got resolved. Chapter 6 introduces computers and explains how the chip was perfect for making digital computers. Chapter 7 shows how the space race actually provided the demand for the microchips, as there wasn't enough industrial interest yet due to the price. Chapter 8 tells about how (again) Jack Kilby assisted with the invention of the handheld calculator that was the first introduction of the chip to the larger public. Chapter 9 is a bit an odd chapter, it explains how a calculator works.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a very good history of the invention of the microprocessor and the different stages of it. It had a lot of details both technical as well as business on the challenges of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Boomer
Mr. Reid enhanced the story of the three innovators from Fairchild and Intel with a welcome dose of technical explanation on the inner workings of processors and their end use... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Michael Kapic
Such an interesting book! It went back and forth between what was going on in Kilby's and Noyce's personal and professional lives, leading up to independent inventions of the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a very good review for those who learned about microelectronics earlier in their career or a very thorough overview of the evolution of microelectronics for those who... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
Awesome story about the development of the most important inventions in mankind's history since the wheelPublished 15 months ago by BeeDee
I like this book very much, it treats both co- inventors fair since they were dealing with the same technical problem in parallel in two different companies. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Joerg Breitenfeld
This is the book I was looking for and I read it with delight; It explain very well sometihing (solid states) many author took for granted. I learned a lot.
I will reread it.