The inventor of the integrated circuit, or computer chip, expressed astonishment for winning a half share in the Nobel Prize for Physics today.
Jack Kilby, 77, a former Texas Instruments employee, said he had "not anticipated this at all. In fact, I thought it most unlikely".
Kilby's integrated chip set of the train of evolution leading to today's Pentium and Athlon chips.
He shares the Nobel Prize for physics, and $195,000 award, with Zhores Alverov, of Russia, and Herbert Kroemer, of the US, two academics, who pioneered the use of laser lights with semiconductors.
Alverov invented the heterotransistor. This coped with much higher frequencies than its predecessors, and apparently revolutionised the mobile phone and satellite communications.
Alverov and Kroemer independently applied this technology to firing laser lights. This in turn revolutionised semiconductor design in a host of areas, including LEDs, barcodes readers and CDs.
Hermann Grimmeiss, of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards Nobel prizes, said: "Without Kilby, it would not have been possible to build the personal computers we have today. And without Alferov, it would not be possible to transfer all the information from satellites down to the Earth or to have so many telephone lines between cities." ®