See The World's First Microchip, Asking Price $1 Million

There’s a little mess of wires and solder that started it all--the world’s first microchip for which its creator, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, eventually won the Nobel Prize in physics. And although at auction, the thing stirred up bids as high as $850,000, it failed to reach the reserve bid nor hit the $1 million to $2 million range expected by auction house Christie’s. A second, more stable prototype was also in the lot along with a letter from Kilby about the process of making them.

Kilby letter microchip
Credit: Christie's via NBC News

No matter; we care a lot less about the price than the fact that this crucial bit of computing history exists. Like many readers, the magnificent world of computing technology is not only something we’re deeply interested in, it’s our livelihood.

Kilby microchip
Credit: Christie's via NBC News

As NBC News reports, the microchip is a germanium wafer that has gold wiring and is mounted on a glass plate embedded in clear plastic. The integrated circuit looks primitive, and it’s incredible to ponder that it helped launch the tech world we have today.