Profile of Texas Instruments

Man's hand using calculator
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Texas Instruments (TI) is a Dallas, Texas based electronics company that has specialized in the research and manufacture of computer technology and semiconductors. Historically, the company is best known for:

  • TI engineer, Jack Kilby's invention of the integrated circuit in 1958.
  • Inventing and manufacturing the first transistor radio in 1954.
  • In 1961, Texas Instruments designed the first integrated circuit-based computer for the U.S. Air Force.
  • In 1967, the company invented and manufactured the first hand-held calculator.
  • At Texas Instruments, the COOL and OATH C++ class libraries were developed, as were PDL2 and the ASC computer, PC-Scheme and Texas Instruments Pascal.
  • In 1982, three Texas Instruments employees broke away from the company to start Compaq Computers.
Currently Texas Instruments is the third largest manufacturer of semiconductors, the second largest supplier of chips for cell phones, and the largest producer of digital signal processors (DSPs) and analog semiconductors.

Background - History of Texas Instruments

Before there was Texas Instruments, there was its predecessor Geophysical Service Incorporated (GSI), a company founded in 1930 by Clarence Karcher and Eugene McDermott. GSI, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, was one of the first companies to provide seismic exploration services for the booming oil and petroleum industry.

GSI co-founder, Clarence Karcher was the inventor of reflection seismology, a technology used by GSI for oil exploration by using underground sound waves to detect potential oil deposits.

Mechanical engineer, Erik Jonsson (a future Texas Instrument co-founder) was hired to head the further GSI research of seismography equipment in GSI's new research lab in Newark, New Jersey.

The oil exploration business was not a stable money-maker and a few years later in 1939, the company underwent major changes.

The Coronado Corporation was formed as an oil company, and became the parent company, and GSI became a subsidiary of Coronado.

Three years later in 1941, Eugene McDermott and three other GSI employees, Erik Jonsson, Cecil Green, and H.B. Peacock bought full ownership of GSI from Coronado. With their experience in equipment design, the new owners of GSI began to branch out into other fields of electronics. WW2 brought GSI significant defense contracts with the US military, manufacturing electronics.

Shortly after the war ended, another future Texas instrument co-founder was hired to work for GSI. Patrick Haggerty was hired as the general manager of the laboratory and manufacturing division of the company. Haggerty was very enthused to see GSI continue to grow as an electronics company. By 1951, Haggerty's division of electronics manufacturing was out-performing GSI's oil exploration business by far.

In 1951, the company underwent another reformatting. The electronics division became a new company called General Instruments, and once again GSI and the oil-exploration side of the business became a subsidiary until 1988 when GSI was sold.

Texas Instruments Incorporated

The name General Instruments proved to be a bad choice as the name was already taken.
The company was renamed, Texas Instruments and incorporated by Eugene McDermott, Erik Jonsson, Cecil Green, and Patrick Haggerty in 1951.

In 1953, Texas Instruments became a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Texas Instruments was doing well and acquired seven other companies in 1953 alone.

The Power of the Transistor

In 1952, Texas Instruments licensed the rights to manufacture Western Electric' patented germanium transistor and started the mass production of high-frequency germanium transistors. The newer and smaller transistor soon replaced the older vacuum tube that had been used in electronics.In 1954, Texas Instruments introduced the first commercial silicon transistor. Gordon Teal, an ex-Bell Laboratories employee was the head Texas Instrument's research laboratories at the time. Teal had begun his research into silicon transistors at Bell, and commercialized the silicon transistor at Texas Instruments. Making a transistor from silicon rather than germanium had several advantages: silicon raised the power output while lowering operating temperatures, and enabled the further miniaturization of electronics.

Also in 1954, Texas Instrument together with the Regency division of Industrial Engineering Associates, Inc., invented a new portable radio using the silicon transistor. The new Regency Radio was the world's first transistor radio and the Regency so impressed the computer manufacturer IBM that in 1957 IBM made Texas Instruments its major supplier of electronic components.

The Amazing Integrated Circuit

Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit at Texas Instruments in 1958. Comprised of the newly invented transistor and other components on a slice of germanium, Kilby's invention was only 7/16-by-1/16-inches in size but replaced components many times its size.Because a semiconductor material was used, for example germanium or silicon, the integrated circuit needed no soldering or wiring. Therefore more components could be placed in a smaller space. The integrated circuit revolutionized the electronics industry, which hungered for ever smaller and more powerful devices.

In 1961, Texas Instruments designed the first computer that incorporated the integrated circuit for the U.S. Air Force. This relatively small computer proved the power of the integrated circuit.

In 1967, Texas Instrument engineers invented a prototype hand-held calculator that weighed forty-five ounces. The project was code-named Cal Tech. The handheld calculator was released commercially in 1972. Once it was offered to the public, it replaced the slide rule as the calculating instrument of choice.

In 1976, Texas Instruments designed and manufactured an electronic digital wrist watch and did very well in that market until the introduction of liquid crystal display (LCD) wrist watches.

Texas Instruments held one patent in LCD technology but did not anticipate and enter the market quickly enough with an LCD product.

In 1978, Texas Instruments designed and released the Speak & Spell, an educational toy that used TI's new speech-synthesis technology, the first commercial product to use the brand new technology, called digital signal processing or DSP technology.

 

When the name Texas Instruments was finalized, Erik Jonsson began thinking about an official company logo. He engaged Torger (Torg) Thompson, an artist with the advertising agency that had handled GSI's business, to design the TI logo.

"How much will you charge?" Jonsson asked.

"Five hundred dollars," Thompson replied.

Both men agreed. It was a fair price. After several revisions, the artist presented Jonsson an acceptable logo design, essentially the same TI has used ever since, although the lines of a ragged Texas coastline would be smoothed out in later revisions of the design.

It would affectionately be called the "TI bug" by employees.

Jonsson, always frugal with the company's cash, offered Thompson 500 shares of the new company's unlisted stock instead of the $500.

"It may be worth a lot more someday," Jonsson said.

Thompson replied, "I'll take the cash."