Monday, March 26, 2012

Texas Instruments and the Microchip

Most people don’t know the microchip started in Texas. In 1958, Texas Instrument’s Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit, forever changing the world as we know it. The integrated circuit paved the way for the microchip, which is the basis of all our super-portable technology today. But how did he start? What made one little semiconductor company turn into the innovator it is today?

How did Kilby come up with his innovative idea? Like many inventors, he wanted to solve a problem. In this case, the problem was called "the tyranny of numbers." For almost 50 years after the turn of the 20th century, the electronics industry was controlled by vacuum tube technology. But vacuum tubes had intrinsic restrictions. They were delicate, large, unpredictable, power hungry, and created substantial heat. It wasn't until 1947, with the development of the transistor by Bell Telephone Laboratories, that the vacuum tube issue was solved. Transistors were a huge step. They were smaller, faster, lighter and stronger than vacuum tubes. But they still had one problem. They needed individual wires to be soldered together over multiple points, and each solder was a potential failing point in the future. But how do you overcome something like that? The Army had the idea of creating snap-together components of pre-soldered parts, but that still meant millions of soldering points that could fail at any time.

Kilby decided he’d figure a way around the problem. Deciding that the only thing a semiconductor house could make cost effectively was a semiconductor;

"Further thought led me to the conclusion that semiconductors were all that were really required — that resistors and capacitors [passive devices], in particular, could be made from the same material as the active devices [transistors]. I also realized that, since all of the components could be made of a single material, they could also be made in situ interconnected to form a complete circuit," Kilby wrote in a 1976 article titled "Invention of the IC."

He started writing down his idea in July of 1958. By September 12, 1958, he was ready to demonstrate a working integrated circuit built on a piece of semiconductor material. What he used was a sliver of germanium, with protruding wires, glued to a glass slide. It was a rough device, but when Kilby turned it on, an unending sine curve undulated across the oscilloscope screen. His invention worked.

Using this innovation, Texas Instruments became the powerhouse it is today. Texas Instrument's analog chips are used in electronics ranging from portable ultrasound equipment to set-top boxes, from eBooks to computer servers, and from robotics to LED streetlights. No matter what industry you imagine, Texas Instruments has had a hand in making it what it is today.

Guest Author Bio: -

Coleen Torres, blogger at phone internet, save money on home phone, digital TV, and high-speed Internet by comparing prices from providers in your area for standalone service or phone TV Internet bundles.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When Was the Town of Danville, Texas Founded?

Over the years, I have been amazed to meet so many 5th , 6th and 7th generation Texans whose ancestors originally settled in the area in and around the town of Danville, Texas in Montgomery County.  Don't waste your time looking for Danville, Texas on a modern map however, you won't find it.  Danville has been a ghost town for a long time.  The road sign for Old Danville Road and the cemetery on Shepard Hill Road are about all that remain of a town and surrounding area that produced so many descendants in Texas.

A number of histories report dates for the town of Danville as early as the 1830's.  However, there do not seem to be any primary historical sources to support those histories.  So, when was the town of Danville, Texas actually founded?  Let us to look at some primary source documents and reason together. The earliest newspaper reference to a place called Danville that I have located was in the March 21, 1846 edition of The Texas Democrat published in Austin, Texas.  See Volume 1, No. 12, page 2.
The article above is in regard to an attempt to establish a postal route through a place called Danville. A couple of weeks later a second newspaper mentioned a place called Danville in a list of polling places in Montgomery County.  See the April 8, 1846 edition of the Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register, Vol. 11, No. 14, page 2.

These newspapers prove that the name Danville had come into usage by March and April of 1846 to describe a place in Montgomery County. The first newspaper article references the attempt to get a postal route to go through a place called Danville.  The second article refers to a polling place called Danville in Montgomery County. But did the town of Danville actually exist in early 1846.  From 1845 to mid 1847 several land transactions occurred within the area that would eventually comprise the town of Danville, but the deeds do not make any mention of a town or place called Danville. 

But what other primary sources can we consult to determine if the town of Danville had an earlier origin.  The cemetery does not provide an earlier date.  The earliest marked grave in the Shepard Hill cemetery is that of Mary Susan Spiller which reports her date of death as August 6, 1850.

My wife and I have been transcribing the Montgomery County Commissioners' Court Minutes for a couple of years now.  So far we have transcribed the minutes for the years 1838-1845.  When published, the Montgomery County Commissioners' Court Minutes, 1838 to 1845, will be an excellent primary historical source for historians researching the early history of Montgomery County, Texas.

During this process, we have seen references by the Commissioners' Court to the town of Montgomery, the town of Huntsville, the town of Cincinnati, the town of Carolina, etc.  But in the years between the first Commissioners' Court Meeting in 1838 through the last meeting in 1845, no mention whatsoever was made of any town, community or place called Danville.  This absence of a place named Danville strongly suggests that no such place existed between 1838 and 1845 within the territory of Montgomery County.

When the town finally came into being, the town would be located on the Joseph Lindley League. Though no mention is made of a town, community or place called Danville in the 1838-1845 minutes, Joseph Lindley and his property are mentioned many times throughout the 1838-1845 Montgomery County Commissioners' Court Minutes. For instance, on page 187, at the January 1844 Commissioners' Court meeting, the minutes provide the following:

Ordered by the Court that A Gallitin  J C Smith  - McDanil - J W Barrett  F Cotton  Jno Hume - J Spillers - J B Chesire - be appointed Commissioners to Review & mark out a road from Jos Lindleys to Huntsville  & report at the next term of this Court

From the January 1845 Commissioners' Court meeting we find the following minutes on page 204:

Ordered by the Court that John Park  Jonathan H Ridgeway - A H White - Richard Williams and Joseph Lindley be and they are hereby appointed to mark and lay out a road commencing near Joseph Lindleys - running to Burches ferry on San Jacinto and make report of their actings and doings at the next term of this Court-

On August 19, 1847, Daniel Robinson became the first postmaster of Danville, Texas.  [See Postmasters and Post Offices of Texas 1846-1930, Volume 2, D-H, compiled by Jim Wheat].  Daniel Robinson did not file the plat of the town of Danville ["Original Plan of the Town of Danville"] until July 10, 1848 [Montgomery County Deed Vol. O, page 231].This plat was prepared more than two years after the March 21, 1846 and the April 8, 1846 newspaper articles above.

Based on these primary sources, it would seem that a tentative thesis can be made that efforts were underway to develop a town called Danville in early 1846.  However the total lack of references to the town or town lots in deeds dating from 1845 and 1846 strongly suggests that Danville may have been more of an idea or wishful thinking by land speculators than an actual town in 1845 or 1846. For more information about the early history of Danville, Texas see the excellent article Journey to Danville by Karen "Candy" Lawless.

If you have a primary source that proves Danville, Texas was established in either 1845 or 1846, please send me an email or add your comments to this page. I would also like to hear from you if you have primary sources that prove the town of Danville was actually founded in 1847 or 1848.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Anson Jones History - Holland Lodge #1 A.F. & A.M.

Texas History Page Blog master, Kameron K. Searle, will be the guest speaker at Holland Masonic Lodge #1 in Houston, Texas on March 14, 2012 at the regularly stated meeting. This meeting is open to all Master Masons. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and the lodge meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. The subject of Kameron Searle's talk will be Brother Anson Jones and his important roles not only in the founding of Masonry in the Republic of Texas but also his essential role in Texas becoming a State. If you cannot attend this meeting, click Anson Jones History for a complete transcript of the lecture. Holland Lodge #1 is located at 4911 Montrose in Houston, Texas.

Anson Jones - Last President of the Republic of Texas

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rolling Thunder and The Texas Army at Washington-on-the-Brazos March 3, 2012

Rolling Thunder Fired in Salute of Texas Independence Day
Special thanks to Eric Scott of Bray Controls for these wonderful shots of Rolling Thunder and The Texas Army at this year's celebration of Texas Independence Day at Washington-on-the-Brazos. This year's celebration of the 176th anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico was held on March 3 and 4, 2012.  Click on images to enlarge.
The Texas Army Fires Cannon
The Texas Army Fires Black Powder Salute