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The First Practical Monolithic Integrated Circuit Concept (1959)


Independently of Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments, Robert N. Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor, Mountain View, California, invented the first practical monolithic circuit concept.  Based on the "planar" technology invented in 1957 by physicist Jean Hoerni at Fairchild, Noyce's invention consisted of a complete electronic circuit inside a small silicon chip. Noyce's first description of his invention was entitled "Methods of isolating multiple devices," written on January 23, 1959 on pp. 70-71 of his patent notebook for Fairchild Semiconductor.

Noyce filed for a patent on "Semiconductor Device-and-Lead Structure" on July 30, 1959.  U.S. patent 2,981,877 was granted on April 25, 1961.

Because Kilby and Noyce shared the invention of the integrated circuit Fairchild and Texas Instruments engaged in litigation over integrated circuit patents for many years. The courts eventually ruled in Noyce's, and Fairchild Semiconductor’s favor, but by then the companies had already settled on a cross-licensing agreement that included a net payment to Fairchild.