In 1930, Clarence Karcher and Eugene McDermott founded Geophysical Service. It became the Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI) with the formation of the oil company Coronado Corp in 1939. During the Second World War, the GSI expanded and started producing electronics for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. In 1951, the company was once again reorganized and named General Instruments. Later on, in the same year the name was changed to Texas Instruments and GSI became a subsidiary of the new company. In the 1950s, under a secret government contract, the TI-GSI monitored the Soviet Union’s underground nuclear weapons testing from Oklahoma. Texas Instruments entered the defense electronics market manufacturing equipment for the seismic industry using technology previously developed for the oil industry.
In the 1950s, Texas Instruments started research on infra-red technology and won several line scanner contracts. In 1954, the first transistor radio was designed and manufactured by Texas Instruments using germanium transistors in partnership with Industrial Development Engineering Associates. In 1967, Texas Instruments invented the hand-held calculator. Also in 1967, it invented the single-chip microcomputer and in 1971, it was assigned the patent on a single-chip microprocessor. In 1978, Texas Instruments introduced the first single-chip speech synthesizer which was applied by their teams of engineers to a series of hand-held educational toys like the Speak & Spell, Speak & Read and Speak & Math.
In 1979, Texas Instruments entered the market for home computers with the TI-99/4 and later the TI-99/4A model released in 1981 in a market of intense price wars. In the 1980s, Texas Instruments actively participated in the growing field of artificial intelligence, developing and selling the Explorer, a family of Lisp Machine Computers. In 1997, however, Texas Instruments sold its computer product line to Acer and withdrew from the home computer market. In the same year, it also sold its software division to Sterling software.
Texas Instruments researched and developed military technology too in the same decades. In the 1960s, Texas Instruments began developing laser-guided bombs (LGB), the first being BOLT-117. The company also won contracts for several high-speed anti-radiation missiles between the 1960s and 1980s. Simultaneously in these years, Texas Instruments researched, developed and won contracts for the first Integrated Circuit- based computer for the U.S. Air Force. It also developed the data systems for the Mariner Program conducted by NASA and JPL that launched robotic interplanetary probes. In 1997, Texas Instruments sold its defense industry to Raytheon.
At present, Texas Instruments has three main divisions:
- Semiconductors – which contribute to 96% of the revenues of the company.
- Educational Technology
- Digital Light Processing.
With the acquisition of National Semiconductor in 2011, Texas Instruments has become the biggest manufacturer of analog technology in the world. Texas Instruments is the world’s third biggest manufacturer of semiconductors after Intel and Samsung. Texas Instruments is also the world’s second biggest cellphone chip supplier.