An early prototype microchip is to star in Heritage Auctions’ November 4 Nature & Science signature auction in Dallas.
Electrical engineer Jack Kilby (1923-2005) created the world’s first integrated chip during the summer of 1958, while working on a problem known as the Tyranny of Numbers.
This little chip changed everything
The issue was that as computers developed in power and complexity, the amount of wiring needed increased exponentially.
Kilby realised he could shrink components and place them on a single integrated board (germanium was chosen as the base, due to its connective properties).
This breakthrough led to smaller, faster and infinitely more powerful computers. It unleashed a revolution in computing, a wave we’re still riding today.
In 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his design.
This lot is consigned by the family of Tom Yeargan, who worked with Kilby on the project. It consists of one of the prototype chips, housed in a case displaying Kilby’s signature, as well as a second silicon circuit.
There’s also an archive of letters from Yeargan explaining the history of the piece.
Many collectors are betting that relics from the early years of the Information Age are going to be hugely valuable in years to come.
The results we’re seeing certainly don’t contradict this idea. In 2014, the Henry Ford Museum paid $905,000 for an exceptional Apple 1 (1976) – the corporation’s first model.
Heritage values Kilby’s chip at $400,000-600,000, a result that could set a fire under this sector of the market.
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