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First stirrings

Bottom of plastic display frame
Top of plastic display frame
The first integrated circuit The first integrated circuit
Courtesy Texas Instruments

The modern personal computer can most logically be traced to 1958. That summer, Jack Kilby, a newly hired engineer at Texas Instruments, invented the integrated circuit - two transistors combined on a single silicon wafer.

This is widely seen as the first step in what became the personal computer revolution - for it meant that computers no longer had to be built of physical switches or vacuum tubes, but could instead have thousands, eventually millions, of those electrical switches embedded on a single chip, reducing both the size and cost of a computer.

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Copyright 2002 Computer Museum of America