Tribute to Jack KilbyThere was a time when engineers who improved our daily lives and spawned global industries achieved enormous prominence and public attention. Henry Ford and his tin lizzie were recognized everywhere. Alexander Graham Bell was a household name around the planet. But Jack Kilby, a son of Great Bend who changed the world with a good idea, never received that kind of recognition. Outside of the engineering labs, where he is recognized as an immortal, his name generally drew a blank. And that was just fine with Jack.
In his soul, Kilby was an engineer, and proud of it. "It's incredibly satisfying," he said, in his easy, plainspoken Kansas way, "to face some important problem and find a solution that works."
That mattered more than prizes, wealth, or fame. When Kilby won the Nobel Prize in Physics, the inventor of the microchip was introduced in Stockholm as the man who created our modern digital world — calculators, computers, cell phones, space travel and so forth. Naturally, Jack disagreed.
In his Nobel lecture, he said that kind of talk reminded him of the story of a beaver and a rabbit sitting in the woods near Hoover Dam: "Did you build that one?" the rabbit asked. "No, but it was based on an idea of mine," the beaver replied.
Jack St. Clair Kilby didn't become a household name around the world. But he solved an important problem, a problem of literally cosmic dimensions. For Jack Kilby, the engineer, that was enough.- T.R. Reid
The Washington Post
Jun 22, 2005 - Revised February 4, 2012
"The increasing diversity in our media was spurred by the development of satellite transmission, the personal computer, and the internet - none of which would have been possible without Kilby's invention."
- David K. Bivins, GBHS '60
PhD., MIT; former NBC Vice President
"Kilby did, after all, come up with the most valuable invention of the past half century."
- Boston Globe
"I recognize the achievements of this extraordinarily distinguished graduate of the Great Bend school system."
- Shannon Stimson, GBHS '69
PhD., Harvard University,
Professor at Cal-Berkeley
"How many towns could claim as their native son a man whose inventions changed the world?"
- Jeanene (Cook) Hoover, GBHS '54
"The significance of this man's genius, and its impact on the world is mind-boggling. Truly history has been made by Jack Kilby."
- Glenn Opie, GBHS '44
"Jack Kilby, a quiet slow-talking sort from Great Bend, Kansas, finally got a chance to work in a major laboratory on a problem of premier importance. Within weeks, he hit on an idea that struck the world of microelectronics like a lightening [sic] bolt."
- T.R. Reid's book, The Chip
"Jack Kilby did more than invent the integrated circuit; Jack Kilby invented the future."
- Kansas City Star
"Jack's work changed the world as few inventions before or since have."
- Tom Engibous, Texas Instruments
"Through Kilby's invention, microelectronics has grown to become the basis of all modern technology."
- Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
"What he did was nothing short of discovering fire."
Great Bend Chamber of Commerce
"Jack Kilby's idea launched the information age."
The Washington Post
"Jack Kilby, to me, is Thomas Edison walking....It's Inspiring. You can come out of Great Bend High School and change the world."
- T.R. Reid,
reporter, correspondent and author
"I've always though of Great Bend as my hometown and I've been proud of that."
- Jack Kilby
He reaches out his hand, giving his microchip to a young boy. To Kilby's right, a girl eagerly reaches out a hand to her slightly older companion. With her other hand she points toward the stars.
Symbolically, the sculpture represents transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next and how that transmission has been affected by the microchip. Kilby passes on the knowledge of his generation,"The Greatest Generation," to the boy who represents "The New Generation," which has been the first to fully experience the impact of Kilby's revolutionary invention. The microchip greatly accelerates the speed at which knowledge is shared.
The young girl representing "The Future Generation," is eager to find what goals her generation can achieve with The Gift
Sculptor Chet Cale, Great Bend, KS
Dedicated April 28, 2012