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The Chip : How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Barely fifty years ago a computer was a gargantuan, vastly expensive thing that only a handful of scientists had ever seen. The world’s brightest engineers were stymied in their quest to make these machines small and affordable until the solution finally came from two ingenious young Americans. Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce hit upon the stunning discovery that would make pos ...more
Kindle Edition, Revised Edition, 320 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Random House (first published January 1st 1984)
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Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Technophobes might as well move on to the next review. I loved this book. It explained in clear, precise language how innumerable barriers were overcome by innovative and insightfully brilliant individuals to create a device that revolutionized our lives. I've always been fascinated by electronics, built my own radios and earned an amateur radio license in 7th grade, just because the subject and theory of how electrons move around to perform useful functions is intriguing. Reid has captured much ...more
Thomas Dietert
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone intrigued by micro-electronics
From start to finish, "The Chip" was a markedly insightful, thorough, broad-sweeping, and satisfying account of the inception of the micro-processor revolution . The author-- T.R. Reid, a journalist and technical writer-- provides an intriguing account of the seminal steps taken by the technology industry of the mid-20th century that brought humanity from relying on vacuum tubes as the core component of electronics (radios, computers, etc.) to semi-conductor "chips" comprised of billions of t ...more
Simon Eskildsen
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, Shackley & Co gave us the magnificent transistor in 1947, but how did we get from there to the general-purpose, spreadsheet-wrangling CPUs we have today? You can think of a transistor as a hose with an electric clamp. The clamp prevents water from flowing through it only when electricity goes to the clamp. If you stop sending electricity to the clamp, the flow of water resumes.

With the electric-clamp, we can now build circuits. Imagine a hose with two clamps next to each other, A and B:

Christopher Litsinger
Can you name the inventors of the microprocessor? I couldn't, in spite of the fact that I have a career that wouldn't even exist without the invention. So because of that, I'm glad I read this book, which focuses on the inventors (Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce fwiw).
However the book is frustrating in a lot of ways. It is neither a biography of the two inventors, or a technical text, but sort of attempts to do both. There's a chapter explaining how microprocessors work at a fairly technical level-
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chip, recounts a fascinating story of two relatively unknown men that changed the course of modern civilization... really. Although working for different companies, many miles apart, they simultaneously came up with the monolithic idea, a basic blueprint for the modern microchip. This concept overcame the last remaining limit in the advancement of processing power that was known as the tyranny of numbers.

The book also shows the importance of government support in new industries as the only w
Dave Cremins
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
The definitive account of the micro-processor and how it has shaped almost all aspects of life. I'm sad that I have finished this book. What a read!!! ...more
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Readable, incredibly informative fire the non-engineer

Reid's book is clear, understandable, but delves into electronics, in general, and tie integrated circuit, in particular. He begins with Jack Kilby and Bib Noyes and the monolithic idea, but then the story goes back in time covering all that lead to the microchip. I particularly liked that he focused on who invented rather than what was invented.

Reid treated his roux much like Kilby and Noyes: he took the problem and found a solution. Kilby
Apr 14, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
first half contains satisfying history and explanation the transistor and microchip, with some focus on the personalities and the problem-solving mindset of engineers that distinguishes them from scientists. as book zooms out in second half to later developments of microchip industry it is less interesting, more skim-worthy. it is curious that jack kirby is so well-known in japan, and it does seem like a credit to them as the celebrity of gates/bezos/musk etc is surely more to do with dazzle of ...more
Marshall Lee Miller
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Third Revolution

important technical events ably presented, that created much of what we call modern--calculators, cellphones, computers, and even the innards of auto engines. If you know generally about such technology, you'd really enjoy this book. If you don't already know a little about such relationships, you're probably too dumb to understand it and should find some simpler book with crayons.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Call it 3.5 stars. The first two-thirds of the book, which covers the progression from vacuum tubes to transistors to microchips, is quite interesting. The last third however drifts into subjects like the inner workings of a pocket calculator, the invention of television, and the rise of Japan in the 1970s and 1980s, all of which are only vaguely related to the main topic and which feel very much like padding. There's a better book waiting to be written about this subject. ...more
Mike Augustine
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If this book’s title sparks any interest for you, it’ll likely exceed your expectations; it did mine. It covers essential technological evolutionary steps that are foundational to the chip’s creation, the creation of the chip and all that has followed, and especially the personalities and their trials, challenges, and successes. A thorough explanation of the essence of how computers operate is included. The book does a fine job of honoring Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce, the chips inventors.
Rick Norman
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Fascinating story about the dawn of computing in Texas and a sleepy little suburb of San Francisco and all the amazing stories and characters that eventually made Silicon Valley. T.R. Reid tells an epic story from vacuum tubes, the tyranny of numbers to silicon wafers and the space program in an easy laid back style and describes it in layman's terms so it never became too technical or tedious. ...more
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 40 pages are a turn off, there are too many facts and too much science, but the next 160 pages are a gem. The history of the chip and how it started was something I was not aware of. Sitting at the beach, reading this book was an absolute joy to learn about the microchip and how it came to revolutionize the world. I wish the book had an update, there has been so much that has happened since the 1980s, a bit outdated in a world that moves so fast.
Dennis McClure
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, the subjects of this book--Kilby and Noyce--stood the world on its head. And very few people have ever heard of them. Reid did his best to change that. He couldn't, but the failure is ours, not his.

Second, Reid is a marvelous writer with a striking ability to render technical subjects understandable.

It's an old book. But you need to read it.
Terri Chapin
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book fascinated me! After working more than 20 years in the semiconductor industry, T.R. Reid explained in a satisfactory way just how these components I’ve been making work! And who knew that I could understand Boolean logic! A little dated at this point, but the historical facets are nonetheless intact. I’d love to read an updated version!
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Popular science writing at its finest. Accessible, forthright, curious. The author didn’t know anything about this subject before writing it and so has a humility and a wonder at the topics of integrated circuits and transistors that anyone will understand and appreciate. Would recommend to anyone who uses a computer aka everyone.
Mike Shaw
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars if you are into technology. Excellent biography of two important men and the beginning of the electronics era. I liked the deep dive into their personalities as well as the review of the industry in general.

It really provides an excellent perspective of what we take for granted today.

Very well written.
Hans Rigelman
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good Concise History of the Electronics Industry

It's more than a story about two humble men, Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby, who invented the integrated circuit. This is a story about how engineers and sometimes governments learn how to solve problems and improve our world. Okay we're still working on that global warming thing.
Nathan Davis
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable, if somewhat dated. It’s interesting to read a book from a time where notion of bytes is a foreign term to most people and requires elaborate explanation.

Fairly short and worth the quick binge read.
Alain van Hoof
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great story about the almost simultaneous ideas that let to the Integrated Circuit. What I like especially is the way the author acknowledge the fact that the discovery was done by "standing on the shoulders of giants" and does not forget to introduce those giants even if the not from the USA. ...more
Grey Webb
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written for the layman

Although I had a basic understanding of how my digital devices worked, this books takes a deep dive into the history, theory and architecture of the microchip.
Tigran Hakobyan
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book about the inventors behind microchip. Learned the history and some of the fascinating details on how the chips work and what makes them one of the most breakthroughs of 20th century. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the history of computing.
Senthil Kumaran
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on making of the silicon valley. It is the story of people who were responsible for American leadership in the technology sector.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative! I love how this was written almost as a sort of nonfictional narrative, rather than a boring textbook. Highly recommended.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of the computer industry and the inventors and patents that made it possible. Recommended by Professor Adam Mossoff in a lecture on intellectual property. I enjoyed it very much.
Mark Kelley
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book comparing Jack Kilby from Texas instruments to Robert Noyce of Intel...and the long battle to see who it really invented the integrated circuit.
Hemhek Song
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
Very well written. Explains the concepts in a very accessible manner.
James Brooke
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
very good read, heartily recommend
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read-books
Technology is great
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never knew about this part of history!
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T.R. Reid is a reporter, documentary film correspondent and author. He is also a frequent guest on NPR's Morning Edition. Through his reporting for The Washington Post, his syndicated weekly column, and his light-hearted commentary from around the world for National Public Radio, he has become one of America’s best-known foreign correspondents.

Reid, a Classics major at Princeton University, served

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