The man (scientist) who built the first calculator in the world

Physicist Jack Kilby must have gone “crazy” when the company he worked for, Texas Instruments, almost ignored his invention. In the summer of 1958, the American scientist, while his colleagues were on vacation, improvising based on his knowledge and imagination, made the first chip in the world. It took ten years for this discovery to take its final form and be the first portable calculator or otherwise known computer.

In 1959, also a physicist, Robert Noyes, who worked for Fairchild, also made a microchip. Kilby, meanwhile, had obtained patent number 3,138,743. Later it would be very useful to him since there were legal disputes over the paternity of the portable calculator. In the end, however, a compromise was reached.

In 1982, Jack Kilby was listed for his invention alongside his great American fellow inventors, such as Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers. In 2000 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. However in the 1950s the “big heads” of computer science could not really appreciate the value of his invention.

On March 29, 1967, the American physicist presented the famous “Cal Tech” to the director of Texas Instruments. The small black aluminum box was as thick as a dictionary, weighed 1.25 kg and certainly did not fit in any pocket. However it was portable and could work with batteries. He was also able to add six-digit numbers, subtract, multiply and divide. He could not do more complex mathematical operations. Again, however, the enthusiasm of Jack Kilby’s bosses was not great. However, they gave permission to the Japanese company Canon to build it and in 1970 the Pocketronic was released. In the US market it cost $ 400. In Germany about 2,000 German marks, about the size of a used car.

However, over time, prices fell and in 1974 they cost around 100 euros. The following years experienced an incredible bloom. Sales in Germany in 1999 alone reached 4.4 million. Today, of course, all smartphones have calculators. However, 2.6 million pieces were sold in Germany last year.

An invention that changed a lot in our daily lives. Who today could have imagined making accounts without a calculator?