The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution Paperback – Oct 9 2001
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They're everywhere, but where did they come from? Silicon chips drive just about everything that sucks power, from toys to heart monitors, but their inventors aren't nearly as widely known as Edison and Ford. Journalist T.R. Reid has thoroughly updated The Chip, his 1985 exploration of the life work of inventors Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, to reflect the colossal shift toward smarter gadgets that has taken place since then.
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
In 1958, "before Chernobyl, before the Challenger rocket blew up, before the advent of Internet porn or cell phones that ring in the middle of the opera," when "`technological progress' still had only positive connotations," Jack Kilby had a good idea, but wasn't sure if his boss at Texas Instruments in Dallas would let him try it. In 1959, in what would become Silicon Valley, Robert Noyce had the same idea about overcoming "the numbers barrier" in electronics: "in a computer with tens of thousands of components... things were just about impossible to make," says Noyce. In his completely revised and updated edition of The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution, Washington Post reporter and columnist T.R. Reid (Confucius Lives Next Door) investigates these underappreciated heroes of the technological age and the global repercussions of their invention. The enormity of their accomplishment was fully recognized only in 2000, when Kilby won the Nobel Prize. 3-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Readers from diverse backgrounds should be stimulated on one or more levels by The Chip. I sincerely hope the book could find its way on the required reading list of High Schools across the country. For this book is about America and for America, weaving together larger themes of individualism, optimism, innovation, amelioration, and, most of all, wonder. It is at once guidebook and soul food, leading, nurturing, sustaining..., lighting up the fires of the creative imagination. So follow this torchlight of a review and pass into the rich and dazzling realm of The Chip.
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 ›
The depth of the treatments of all of these subjects is just enough to tell you what you need to know about the major events and players, though I have to admit, in many places I would have willingly accepted more detail. I have the feeling that the book could have easily been twice as long if Reid had wanted it to be and I probably wouldn't have minded at all.
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 ›
Most recent customer reviews
I found this book to be helpful and informative. It does a good job of explaining the Ideas, thoughts, history, and science behind one of today greatest enigmas the micro chip. Read morePublished on May 7 2003 by James Studer
At the very outset of the review I must warn that I am a techie so my review is biased. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Read morePublished on Sept. 13 2002 by Amazon Customer
This book was fascinating. As much an introduction to the science behind the chip as the history, the author uses the narrative of the invention of the microchip as a way to teach... Read morePublished on March 15 2002 by Jon Roig
An interesting book, full of good explanations of the science, along with glimpses of the personalities of the scientists. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2002
I was disappointed in this book,which I read after I saw the author on C-Span's Book TV. The material would have made a good magazine article. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2002 by david corwin
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