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Kilby won a Nobel Prize in physics in 2000 for his 1958 invention of the IC while working at Texas Instruments. Also inventor of the handheld calculator and thermal printer, he died in 2005 at the age of 81.

Gartner analyst Jim Tully says development of the IC allowed for great cost reductions in electronics, enabling technology to spread to all aspects of business and also to consumers.

ICs, he says, are now found in everything from memories and microprocessors to mobile phones, TVs, media players, navigation systems, games consoles, watches, cameras and countless other items. They are so woven into our lives that it would now be hard to imagine a world without them.

Sales of ICs have been growing at about 10 percent annually for decades. Around US$270 billion worth will be sold globally in 2008.

“The integrated circuit is the engine of the information age,” Tully says. “It has been a catalyst for the democratisation of knowledge and changing
global social structures.”