"Kilby arrived at TI during a sweltering June. As a new employee he had no vacation time, so when the cast of thousands cleared out for mandatory vacations in July, he was left alone at his bench. The relief of silence no doubt convinced him that employing thousands of people to wire transistors together was asinine, and the absence of supervisors gave him free time to pursue a new idea he called an integrated circuit. Silicon transistors weren't the only parts of a circuit that had to be hand-wired. Carbon resistors and porcelain capacitors also had to be spaghettied together with copper wire. Kilby scrapped that separate-element setup and instead carved everything -- all the resistors, transistors, and capacitors -- from one firm block of semiconductor. It was a smashing idea -- the difference, structurally and artistically, between sculpting a statue from one block of marble and carving each limb separately, then trying to fit the statue together with wire. Not trusting the purity of silicon to make the resistors and capacitors, he turned to [the element] germanium for his prototype.
"Ultimately, this integrated circuit freed engineers from the tyranny of hand-wiring. Because the pieces were all made of the same block, no one had to solder them together. In fact, soon no one even could have soldered them together, because the integrated circuit also allowed engineers to automate the carving process and make microscopic sets of transistors -- the first real computer chips. Kilby never received full credit for his innovation ... but geeks today still pay Kilby the ultimate engineering tribute. In an industry that measures product cycles in months, chips are still made using his basic design fifty years later. And in 2000, he won a belated Nobel Prize for his integrated circuit."