Microchip Inventor Proves Handy with Camera

kilby.jpgLast week we told you about GQ design director Fred Woodward‘s first photo exhibition. Another fellow whose prowess as a photographer has been overshadowed by other impressive achievements? Jack Kilby (pictured at left, around 1960), the late Nobel prize-winning inventor of the integrated circuit, among other things. On Saturday, an exhibition of 58 of Kilby’s photographs opened at Southern Methodist University (SMU)’s Meadows Museum in Dallas.

“Kilby printed his own negatives and showed real ingenuity in framing, printing, and cropping his photographs,” writes Anne Peterson, the show’s curator, in the exhibition notes. “The subjects he chose fall into several categories: cityscape, industrial, landscape, people, as well as abstractions and experimentation with processes.” One shot of a woman pushing an infant in a stroller down an otherwise deserted stretch of cobblestones in Germany has the ethereal, shadowy gleam of a decisive moment captured by Henri Cartier-Bresson, while we can’t help but scan the landscape of Kilby’s 1970 photo of an abandoned farmhouse for a writhing Wyethian woman.


“Jack Kilby: The Eye of Genius” is on view through September 21, as part of the yearlong fiftieth anniversary celebration of his invention of the integrated circuit. The show also includes Kilby’s camera equipment and photography-related metarials, invention notebooks, Nobel Prize, and the first integrated circuit. Were Kilby alive today, he’d probably respond to all of the laudatory hubbub with characteristic modesty. A few years after pioneering what would later be regarded as one of the most significant innovations of the twenieth century, he shrugged it off, saying, “It won’t be that big a deal in the long term.”