Jack Kilby: The Eye of Genius
A quiet, unassuming man, Jack Kilby (1923-2005) had a creative bent that stretched from invention of the integrated circuit (IC) to production of photographs of great artistic beauty. On September 12, 1958, Kilby demonstrated his prototype for the IC to a group at Texas Instruments, where he was employed. This groundbreaking invention, also known as the microchip or semiconductor, made possible limitless applications for computers, calculators, space-age technology, and much more. The IC is used today in almost all electronic equipment; it was truly an invention that changed the world. For his contribution to the field of science, Kilby won numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science, and induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame. The year 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Kilby’s invention, a year to celebrate and honor the man behind the genius.
The creativity displayed in his technical inventions was also readily apparent in Kilby’s photography. Although well known in the electronics industry, as a photographer he was relatively obscure; only a few friends knew his passion for the subject. Despite his demanding career at Texas Instruments, Kilby was a serious photographer with prolific and varied output. He printed his own negatives and showed real ingenuity in framing, printing, and cropping his photographs. His eager lens captured and explored the human condition, cityscape, industrial landscape, and abstraction experimentation with photographic processes.
After Kilby’s death in 2005, his daughters donated a significant collection of materials, relating to both his career as a scientist and life as an artist, to SMU’s DeGolyer Library, home of the Texas Instruments corporate archives. The collection includes Kilby’s camera, lenses, and numerous photographs, in addition to his Nobel Prize and personal collection of books and other papers. The Eye of Genius will highlight this great inventor’s documents and museum objects as well as his accomplished photographs from the Jack Kilby and the Texas Instruments historical archives. Curated by Dr. Anne Peterson, DeGolyer Library’s curator of photographs, this exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum in collaboration with DeGolyer Library and will be installed in the downstairs galleries from July 12 to September 21.