The Computer History Museum Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Integrated Circuit with "Salute to the Semiconductor"

CHM's Year-long Program Honors the Revolutionary Impact of ICs

Mountain View, CA—March 10, 2009— The Computer History Museum (CHM) announced today that it has launched its Salute to the Semiconductor program in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the integrated circuit (IC). 

The year-long program, highlighted by events and commemorative activities, will focus on the history, growth of the integrated circuit and its impact on society. A week of celebration at the Computer History Museum will include the following events, taking place in Mountain View, Calif.:

  • May 2: National Inventors Hall of Fame 2009 Induction Ceremony Gala
  • May 6: Prefiguring the Integrated Circuit: Microcircuitry in the Late 1950s – Evening Reception and Speaker Program
  • May 8: Afternoon IEEE Commemorative Plaque Unveiling at the original Fairchild site
  • May 8: The Planar Integrated Circuit: Building the Future at Fairchild – Evening Reception and Speaker Program

Major funding for this program is generously provided by Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Intel Corporation. Additional funding for specific events is provided by the National Semiconductor Foundation, a charitable fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“The integrated circuit is the foundation for modern life. Isaac Asimov once described the innovation of the integrated circuit as ‘the most important moment since man emerged as a life form.’ It is central to our mission to tell these ground-breaking stories of technological progress, and to put them in context for all of us today. We’re thrilled to recognize this achievement through our Salute to the Semiconductor program to bring its full impact to light,” said John Hollar, the Museum’s President and CEO.

Efforts to integrate entire circuits into a single block of semiconductor to reduce the size as well as improve the cost and reliability of electronic systems began in the early 1950s. The first practical approaches to integrated circuits emerged later that decade. In 1958, Texas Instruments demonstrated a single chip amplifier, and in 1960, Fairchild Semiconductor developed a technology that made such circuits practical for high volume production. The IC, at the heart of every electronic product made today, is a direct descendent of this 50-year-old innovation.

The May 2 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is a black-tie gala event to honor 15 pioneering inventors, both living and deceased, who contributed major advances related to or enabled by the integrated circuit. The not-for-profit National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 to honor and foster the creativity and invention that make human, social, and economic progress possible.  Information on the National Inventors Hall of Fame, its Inductees and the Induction gala can be found at http://www.invent.org .

The program to mark the technology’s 50th year, which will be punctuated with capstone events at CHM featuring semiconductor pioneers Jay Last, Jay Lathrop, Gordon Moore, and Charles Phipps as well as National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla, is scheduled to take place on May 6 and 8. The Museum will host additional lectures and community activities during the year to celebrate and honor the story of semiconductor electronics.

The events of May 6 and 8 are co-produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Computer History Museum and the IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section. The organizers selected 2009 to celebrate the anniversary, as 1959 was a period of extraordinary technical activity across the semiconductor industry. Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, Kurt Lehovec of Sprague, along with Jean Hoerni and Robert Noyce of Fairchild all filed patent applications that were key to the success of the IC. Late in 1959, Jay Last assembled a team whose creative efforts led to the development of Fairchild Micrologic in 1960, which were the first planar integrated circuits and the forerunners of the modern world of microelectronics.

As part of the integrated program, CHM will produce an exhibit specific to ICs that will include excerpts from the Museum’s oral histories collection. CHM’s online exhibit, “The Silicon Engine” will be enhanced to provide richer information and educational opportunities. Additionally, educational tours will be provided to high school students to generate interest and appreciation of computer history among the younger generation.

For more information on the history and growth of integrated circuits and their impact on computers, please visit the Silicon Engine online exhibit: http://www.computerhistory.org/semiconductor/.

 

About the Computer History Museum
The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, Calif., is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history, and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs and moving images.
 
CHM brings computer history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, onsite tours, as well as physical and online exhibits. Current exhibits include “Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2,” “Mastering the Game: A History of Computer Chess,” “Innovation in the Valley” – a look at Silicon Valley startups – and the unique “Visible Storage Gallery,” featuring over 600 key objects from the collection.

The signature “Computer History: The First 2,000 Years” exhibit will open in late 2010.

For more information, visit www.computerhistory.org or call (650) 810-1010.

 


 

Press Contacts:
Fiona Tang
Computer History Museum
ftang@computerhistory.org 
(650) 810-1036