For more information, contact Glenn Opie, chair for Committee to Honor Jack Kilby, 620-793-5455

April 16, 2012
Story by: Michael Dawes, King Content PR

Noted Author T.R. Reid Plans Great Bend Return to Honor Kilby
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Kilby Dedication Set for April 28
T.R. Reid - author, reporter for the Washington Post, frequent guest for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and documentary film correspondent - will be in Great Bend April 28 to celebrate Jack Kilby Day. Reid has written nine books in English and three in Japanese. He has made documentary films for National Geographic Television, PBS, and the A&E Network.

Reid has been married for 39 years to Margaret “Peggy” McMahon, a practicing attorney in Colorado. The couple have three children.
More than a decade after Jack Kilby and noted journalist and author T.R. Reid joined in creating buzz within the Great Bend community during Jack Kilby Weekend, the two are linked together once again in the same place. Though Kilby died nearly seven years ago, a sculpture will be unveiled on April 28 in downtown Great Bend that completes a monument to recognize the inventor of the microchip and Nobel Prize winner who hails from the area. Becoming a longtime friend of the understated engineer through his writing career, Reid will provide unique insight about Kilby during the 7:30 p.m. sculpture unveiling ceremony.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the memorial and seeing everybody in Great Bend,” said Reid, who moved to Denver in 2003, after serving overseas for many years as a Washington Post Bureau Chief. “I think it’s wonderful that Great Bend understands what Jack Kilby achieved, and I think it’s marvelous the way a community in the heart of Kansas has grabbed on to the legacy of their favorite son.”
In mid-October 2001, Reid had a longer trek to Great Bend. Back then, he served as London Bureau Chief for the Post. He participated with Kilby in the weekend events, and released an updated version of his 1984 book about Kilby titled, “The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution.” The book follows the independent paths Kilby and Robert Noyce took to create the integrated circuit. Kilby’s invention was six months ahead of Noyce, but Noyce’s version differently connected the parts. Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. battled for licensing rights through the 1960s before agreeing to cross-license their technologies.

“One thing my book did was to convey the sense that these guys were joint inventors,” explained Reid. “They got the same idea separately at about the same time. Neither of them cared about who was first; they were simply solving a problem, as engineers do. I think today both TI and Intel (the company Noyce founded in 1968) recognize both men as co-inventors.”

Following publication of “The Chip” in 1984, Reid kept in contact with both men, until each of their deaths. Reid especially developed a close relationship with Kilby and his family. As he explained it, Kilby was “like a friendly old uncle,” even though Reid made sure his three children understood Kilby’s importance as “one of the most important Americans of the century.” But Reid noted that Kilby never presented himself in such an important way. He wasn’t interested in gaining celebrity status or in winning awards.

“What drove him was solving problems,” said Reid. “He was aware that he had solved the most important electrical engineering problem of the 20th century and I think he was comfortable with that. He liked that.”

As one of the most noted journalists today, Reid continues to undertake global topics and projects as a writer, commentator and documentary film correspondent. His work sometimes takes him away from home for weeks and months at a time. Several years ago, he was away for two years researching and writing in Europe. Still, he finds time where there’s opportunity to tout the accomplishments of his friend who changed the world. Reid does it, he said, because Kilby’s story is one that has the capability to inspire new generations.

“It’s obvious that Jack got a fabulous basis of science from Great Bend High School in the 1930s and 40s,” said Reid. “He couldn’t have done what he did later if he did not have that educational basis. He came out of a community that cared about educating its kids. The beauty of building a memorial to Jack Kilby in Great Bend is to remind the community that our kids have the opportunity to do great things if we give them a decent education now. That message can be applied everywhere in America.”