Texas Instruments

By: Gary Price

Type: General Entry

Published: January 1, 1996

Updated: May 19, 2021

Texas Instruments, Dallas-based pioneer developer of silicon transistors, integrated circuits, pocket calculators, and semiconductor microprocessors, produces a wide range of consumer, industrial, and military electronics and hardware. In 1991 its Dallas headquarters were located on 275 acres, and TI had twelve major locations in Texas and more than forty major locations worldwide. Its origins can be traced to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where John Clarence Karcher and Eugene B. McDermott, two physicists who had developed a seismographic process useful in oil exploration, started the Geophysical Research Corporation as a subsidiary of Amerada Petroleum in 1924. They moved to Dallas in 1930, started a new independent company, Geophysical Service, Incorporated, and soon opened another laboratory in New Jersey. At the beginning of World War II GSI president Erik Jonsson, who had been hired to manage the New Jersey lab, realized that oil-exploration technology could also be used for submarine detection, and GSI began manufacturing military electronics for the government. In 1945 Patrick E. Haggerty, formerly a purchaser of GSI's equipment for the United States Navy, joined the company as manager of manufacturing, convinced that the company could exploit the rapidly developing field of military electronics. The company changed its name to Texas Instruments in 1951 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1953. TI gained a niche in the electronic industry as the first company to develop production techniques for the recently invented transistor. In 1952 Haggerty hired physicist Gordon Teal from Bell Labs, where the transistor had been invented in the late 1940s, to head the development team. To demonstrate the value of its new product, TI produced the first portable transistor radio in 1954 and soon became a primary vendor to rapidly growing IBM. Most early transistors, including those in TI's portable radios, were made from germanium. But TI engineers, against conventional wisdom, surprised the industry in 1954 by announcing production of two types of silicon transistors, developed by a team headed by Willis Adcock. By 1956, TI had total sales of $45 million, up from $3 million in 1946, and led the industry in transistor sales.

TI's early experience with silicon transistors paved the way for the invention of the silicon-based integrated circuit in 1958 by TI engineer Jack Kilby, whose concept allowed entire circuits, not simply transistors, to be made from silicon. The following year Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor in California developed an economical process for production of Kilby's circuit, and after a ten-year legal battle the two companies settled on joint patent agreements. Kilby is credited with the idea of integrating components on a silicon chip, and Noyce, who became a founder of Intel Corporation in 1968, is credited with conceiving a practical way to connect the miniature components. In 1959, in its only major merger, TI merged with the Metals and Controls Corporation of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Integrated circuits, semiconductor components, and geophysical operations were only part of TI's diversified operations. During the 1950s the company moved into other areas, including metallurgical products, missile-guidance systems, and specialized computers. Intent on branching out into consumer electronics, chief executive Haggerty launched a research and development program in 1965 to build the first portable hand-held calculator. TI introduced that product in 1971. The same year the company received the first patent on a microprocessor, a true "computer on a chip." Unlike dedicated integrated circuits, the first microprocessors, produced that year by both Intel and TI, were flexible and small enough to serve in a wide variety of electronic applications.

During the 1970s and 1980s the company's attempt to move beyond such relatively low-priced consumer electronics as calculators and digital wristwatches yielded mixed results. Intensified foreign and domestic competition and TI's failure to break into the microcomputer market in the early 1980s forced the company to lay off personnel and write off large losses in 1985. Certain sections of the TI microchip business still continued to be profitable, and other contracts, such as the huge ($6.8 billion) navy contract for antiradar missiles awarded to TI in 1983, helped the company to overcome difficulties that would have ruined less diversified companies. In the late 1980s TI began to prosper again, focusing on its older strengths of military and commercial electronics and funding more research and development in the expanding field of artificial intelligence and computer graphics. In 1993 the company employed approximately 60,000 people, and its CEO was Jerry R. Junkins.

Business Week, April 28, 1986. Fortune, November, December 1961. Texas Monthly, July 1982. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II


  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Gary Price, “Texas Instruments,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 03, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-instruments.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996
May 19, 2021

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