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1958 Integrated Circuit Prototypes From Jack Kilby's TI Lab Up For Sale

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the piece-of-history dept.

The Almighty Buck 76

First time accepted submitter Dharma's Dad writes Christie's New York is auctioning off a 1958 prototype microchip, used by Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments in his Nobel Prize-winning invention of putting an integrated circuit onto a single chip. Gifted to one of the lab employees by Kilby, the family has decided to sell it. Estimated at $1,000,000 - $2,000,000, this prototype integrated circuit was built between July 18 and September 12, 1958, of a doubly diffused germanium wafer with flying gold wire and four leads.

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Microchip (0)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 4 months ago | (#47268103)

Are we still annoyed at people who say "Microchip" or have we gotten over it? I remember when it was a suitable target for nerd rage.

Re:Microchip (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#47268127)

I'd say, if it's from 1958, it's ok to call it a microchip.

Re:Microchip (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268599)

Around here, in the 1960, there were even wackier terms for what we call integrated circuits today.

Re:Microchip (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#47269635)

I dunno, maybe I'm old, but "microchip" doesn't seem all that wacky to me.

Re:Microchip (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 4 months ago | (#47268173)

What's wrong with microchip? I've always preferred it to "computer chip" because so many chips aren't entirely digital.

Re:Microchip (3, Interesting)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | about 4 months ago | (#47268703)

What's wrong with microchip?

Two guesses...

1. Microchip [microchip.com] is a brand name. Calling an IC a Microchip is like calling a moving staircase an Escalator [wikipedia.org] .

2. "Microchip" sounds like a disagreeably small snack. Quite the contrary, they are quite filling.

Re:Microchip (1)

schreiend (1092383) | about 4 months ago | (#47269445)

1. Because brand name generalization is so uncommon [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Microchip (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 4 months ago | (#47269887)

1. So pretty normal then.

Re:Microchip (2)

Camael (1048726) | about 4 months ago | (#47270253)

1. Microchip [microchip.com] is a brand name. Calling an IC a Microchip is like calling a moving staircase an Escalator [wikipedia.org] .

Factually correct, but doesn't answer the question of "Why not?" We do it all the time. We xerox documents. We google for results. And besides, it is already too late [oxforddictionaries.com] .

Re:Microchip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270539)

Woa, never realised Escalator is a brand, here in the UK they are never called moving staircases, pretty sure that growing up it was always microchips too, the only branded microchip were the kind you ate http://www.mccain.co.uk/mccain-products/real-chips-real-quick/

Re:Microchip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270313)

What's wrong with microchip?

You weren't a young nerd cringing with embarrassment-by-association every time the word was used by low-brow journalists in the 70s equivalents of 60-Minutes and Time magazine (which were probably 60-Minutes and Time magazine).

On TV, the air-heads would always say "micro-CHIP" - emphasis on chip.

Re:Microchip (2)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 4 months ago | (#47271553)

"What's wrong with microchip?"

How quickly memory fades. It was regarded as a dumb-ass conflation of micro-circuit and chip. An IC should be called a chip. Just chip, no micro- in front. Micro-chip implies that there are much larger full sized chips, which is nonsense. Also a "micro" was a microprocessor, so a micro chip might be an 8085 or Z80, but not all chips were micros.

Then as now, nerds were sticklers for precision in language.

Re:Microchip (3)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47268195)

synonymous for me, with IC and monolithic integrated circuit....but then I'm old

Re:Microchip (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 4 months ago | (#47268207)

pretty much no one says "monolithic" any more because hybrids have pretty much gone the way of the buffalo.

In my experience they are usually called "chips" or "ICs" by people in the industry.

Re:Microchip (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47268235)

hybrid integrated circuits are still used in micro and millimeter wave systems

Re:Microchip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268447)

That's probably because you work near DC. People making 100GHz+ scopes, either real-time or sampling, aren't exactly buying their parts from Digikey.

Re:Microchip (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268621)

That's probably because you work near DC.

The federal government must really hate microwaves, then.

Re:Microchip (3, Interesting)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 4 months ago | (#47268501)

At Texas Instruments, an integrated circuit was called a "bar", not "chip" or "die", partly because that's what Jack called them. Wafers were called "slices", so your multiprobe yield was expressed in "good bars per slice". They finally dropped the Texas jargon in the mid-'80s when it became obvious that it was a silly affectation in the face of industry-standard terminology and an obstacle to communicating clearly with vendors and customers.

Re: Microchip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270447)

This I can confirm. The terminology is still baked into their (phenomenally good) mainframe applications.

Re:Microchip (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 4 months ago | (#47270477)

Wafers were called "slices", so your multiprobe yield was expressed in "good bars per slice".

Did they ever refer to the process of wafer testing "Looking for Mr. Goodbar?"

TI affectations didn't go away easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47272255)

There were still more than a few holdouts when I was there in the 90's. Most of them were "gold badges", which was the term for people who had been there for over 20 (or 25?) years and had an employee badge with a gold background. The most hidebound of them demanded and were given more respect than their capabilities or achievements justified. Much stupid stuff was done because a gold badge insisted on it.

Management realized this was a culture problem and took steps. The seniority based badge system was phased out - all new hires were given silver background badges and it was hinted that it would be wise for others to convert to silver badges over time. Many who didn't disappeared in the great gold badge hunt that ensued a couple of years later. A lot of the "TI way" versus "the rest of the world's way" disappeared along with them.

Kilby & Noyce (1, Informative)

crgrace (220738) | about 4 months ago | (#47268191)

While Kilby's chip with bondwire interconnect was first, it's interesting that Noyce's concept at Fairchild using Hoerni's planar technology with all interconnect fabricated using the same photolithography as the devices is pretty much how we do it today. Kilby's concept was a technological dead end.

Re:Kilby & Noyce (4, Insightful)

smaddox (928261) | about 4 months ago | (#47268379)

And Newton didn't invent the modern notation for Calculus (the modern form is due to Leibniz). And Maxwell wrote his equations completely differently than we write them now (the modern form is due to Oliver Heaviside). And Einstein didn't discover the special relativity transformations (hence why they are called Lorentz transformations). And Edison wasn't the first to invent the light bulb, let alone the carbon filament light bulb, let alone the tungsten filament light bulb. I could go on...

Re:Kilby & Noyce (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268709)

I'm not completely sure your analogies are 100 % apt. Newton, Maxwell etc. made breakthroughs in thinking that really didn't get hampered by their original notation to the extent as to be unrecognizable. Kilby's circuit, OTOH, had much more in common with the technologies preceding it, most obviously the fact that they were manually wired. At best, it was halfway between the preceding and following technologies. Maxwell's theory wasn't "half-electromagnetic". Kirby's circuits, however, were "half-monolithic", since the problem of, e.g., insulating the parts and only working with doping was only solved later in Noyce's invention.

Kilby, Nobel Laureate Patent Troll (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about 4 months ago | (#47271073)

Halfway there wasn't really any way there. The Fairchild Planar Process was the real breakthrough but Kilby had the broad patent claims on something commercially unworkable.

Re:Kilby & Noyce (1)

gander666 (723553) | about 4 months ago | (#47269335)

Crap, and I without mod points. Huge +5 sir...

1958 Integrated Circuit Prototypes (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 4 months ago | (#47268209)

That's a lot of prototypes.

But wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268387)

This was before Kennedy gave his Moon speech. Since we all know we only have computers and ICs because of NASA, something's wrong here!

Re:But wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268555)

Greetings "Space Nutter" troll. Would you mind fucking off and dying? We'd be ever so grateful.

Re:But wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268575)

Race you to Mars? First one there will be dead! Bahahahahaaaa!!!!

Re:But wait a minute (2)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 4 months ago | (#47268647)

ICs weren't invented for the space industry, but it is from the space and military industries that the transistor and IC manufacturers received a lot of their initial funding. For both the space and military industries the high costs of transistors and ICs was justified by their space, weight and energy-use savings along with their heat resistance. For business and consumers the benefits didn't justify the costs.

If is wasn't for the space and military industries the development of transistors and ICs would probably have been slower.

Source: Revolution in Miniature: The History and Impact of Semiconductor Electronics [google.co.jp]

Re:But wait a minute (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268837)

To restate it in Moore's law terms, for the first few years after the invention of ICs, the complexity for minimum component costs was exactly 1 transistor per chip. ;-)

Re:But wait a minute (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 4 months ago | (#47270053)

I got a portable radio for christmas 1967, it had nine transistors. I took it apart and counted them just to be sure.

Re:But wait a minute (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268725)

Yes, it's your assumption that before NASA's application of ICs to compact computer design, ICs were not a solution looking for a problem. In fact, they were.

Re:But wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268831)

Oh, look, it's Fark reject Quantum Apostrophe, dropping his pathetic ass into yet another unrelated discussion to threadshit about space programs. Haven't you died of bioscience neglect and bitterness yet?

Re:But wait a minute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268907)

Oh look, it's someone who thinks he'll colonize the universe because of sci-fi.

ma8e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268423)

at least.' Nob0dy

Why pay so much at auction? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 4 months ago | (#47268429)

I guess money is no object. I have lots of objects but no money, personally.

$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 4 months ago | (#47268431)

$1,000,000 - $2,000,000 for what is basically a transistor?
Wow.
I have some swamp land in Florida you may be interested in.

Re:$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 4 months ago | (#47268491)

If you had something that was provably the first wheel, it would go for more than the price of a wheel.

Re:$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (2)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 4 months ago | (#47268597)

It's more than just a transistor. That it is multiple connected components is what gives it significance in the history of technology.

It's a piece of history. The price tag is determined by those who value history.

Re:$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270271)

The price tag is determined by those who value history.

There is this common misconception that "the market" creates a price for items which reflect their value, but this is nonsense. I value history, but I don't have a million dollars to drop on a historically important IC prototype. A billionaire playboy who wants a fancy-looking paperweight could buy this after applying the same amount of thought I would apply for, say, a fancy meal. But he might also spend the same amount of money on trashy jewelry.

The fact that a billionaire playboy pays the same for each does not mean that they have the same value. It just means that they have the same price.

On the other end of the scale, a bowl of soup can mean the difference between life and death, yet a bowl of soup is unlikely to ever have the same price as a high quality diamond necklace. The soup has more value, but will never have the same price. Capitalism should never (IOW any attempt is ideological woo-woo) be regarded as assigning a generalised value to things, merely a price.

Re:$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47270505)

There is this common misconception that "the market" creates a price for items which reflect their value, but this is nonsense

That is nonsense. The value is based on supply and demand.

On the other end of the scale, a bowl of soup can mean the difference between life and death, yet a bowl of soup is unlikely to ever have the same price as a high quality diamond necklace.

If you are hungry, it's worth a fuck of a lot more. If everyone were to go hungry, then the bowl of soup would be worth more than the diamond necklace.

Re:$1,000,000 - $2,000,000? wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268675)

See that Mona Lisa? I can't take a much better picture with my camera and will sell it to you for just $1m. Think of the savings!

Does it still work? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#47268449)

Is the device still operational after all that time?

Re:Does it still work? (2)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#47268667)

I'm sure by now all the magic smoke has leaked out.

'Gifted' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268455)

Urgh! Stop using that non-word!

Re:'Gifted' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47269053)

How is it a non-word? It has a pretty distinct meaning that people do not find ambigous and is in common use.

GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (4, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#47268477)

given to one of the lab employees, not GIFTED.

Please, let's not let this Farmville jargon take over the net, including Slashdot. Nothing was 'gifted' unless it had certain special qualities. Things are given, not gifted.

Language changes. But not because fucking Zynga made a game.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268631)

I'm waiting for someone to architect a rebuttal.

GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268661)

Well, you certainly have a gift...

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47268759)

gift, v.: "To bestow as a gift; to make a present of." It's actually a pretty old usage.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 4 months ago | (#47268805)

Gifted is perfectly cromulent wordage.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268901)

You seriously think the word gifted was created by a video game company? The word gift has specific connotations that given doesn't have. You give somebody an STD, you don't gift them an STD. And you gift somebody something you care about, you don't give them something like that.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#47269115)

You give somebody an STD, you don't gift them an STD.

WRONG! Whether you give or gift an STD depends completely on the nature of the relationship ;-)

Learn to use a dictionary (5, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | about 4 months ago | (#47269039)

From the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of "gift" as a verb:

2. To bestow as a gift; to make a present of. Const. with to or dative. Also with away. Chiefly Sc.
1619 J. Sempill Sacrilege Sacredly Handled 31 If they object, that tithes, being gifted to Levi, in official inheritance, can stand no longer than Levi [etc.].
a1639 J. Spottiswood Hist. Church Scotl. (1677) v. 278 The recovery of a parcel of ground which the Queen had gifted to Mary Levinston.
1711 in A. McKay Hist. Kilmarnock (1880) 98 This bell was gifted by the Earl of Kilmarnock to the town of Kilmarnock for their Council~house.
1754 J. Erskine Princ. Law Scotl. (1809) i. 51 Where a fund is gifted for the establishment of a second minister, in a parish where the cure is thought too heavy for one [etc.].
1801 A. Ranken Hist. France I. 301 Parents were prohibited from selling, gifting, or pledging their children.
1829 J. Brown New Deeside Guide (1876) 19 College of Blairs..having been gifted to the Church of Rome by its proprietor.
1836 A. Alison Hist. Europe V. xlii. 697 Thus did Napoleon and D'Oubril..gift away Sicily.
1878 J. C. Lees Abbey of Paisley xix. 201 The Regent Murray gifted all the Church Property to Lord Sempill.

I'm not sure when Zynga was founded, but I'm pretty sure it was after 1619.

Re:Learn to use a dictionary (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 4 months ago | (#47270273)

The sad thing is that the wrong/erroneous parent post you are replying to is actually modded higher/insightful than your correct/accurate reply.

So much for moderation. =)

Re:Learn to use a dictionary (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 months ago | (#47271517)

Zynga didn't use the OED to rustle up an old word and give it a new life. There's no relationship between the modern usage and the OED usage. The modern usage is the result of marketing idiots endlessly verbing nouns. To pretend that it's some sort of scholarly work is ridiculous, but that's exactly what you just argued.

No. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 4 months ago | (#47272067)

OP complained about use of the word "gifted," claiming it was derived from Farmville jargon. This is factually incorrect and demonstrably false. I have never heard "gifted" in the context of Farmville or any other Zynga game until this Slashdot discussion. I have, however, heard it many times in normal English usage, used in ways similar to the examples given by the OED.

Just because OP is not familiar with the English word, which predates Zynga by centuries, does not mean that all modern usage derives from Zynga, which appears to be what you are arguing.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#47269113)

Please, let's not let this Farmville jargon take over the net, including Slashdot. Nothing was 'gifted' unless it had certain special qualities. Things are given, not gifted.

You know what the funny thing is? YOUR ARE COMPLETELY 100% WRONG!

I suggest you go and look up "gift" now in your favorite dictionary ;-)

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

amalcolm (1838434) | about 4 months ago | (#47269961)

Don't care - itstill sets my teeth on edge, don't know why

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47269989)

Because it is verbing the noun.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270197)

He gave him the IC. He thought the IC was a gift. Maybe he was right, maybe he was wrong.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47270377)

Language changes.

Yes, and nerds have pushed this set of changes to language. Notably, English is converging on the nerd standard that all verbs can be nouned, and all nouns can be verbed. However, this is not one of the words to which this has happened recently, as sibling comments point out. I only wanted to raise the point that your taking exception here was exceptionally foolish given that language is trending in that direction anyway, and that we the nerds are the ones who have pushed that tendency.

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47270989)

Gifted is more specific; one may be given something that is not a gift. May I suggest a word-of-the-day calendar?

Re:GIVEN to one of the lab employees. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47272475)

given to one of the lab employees, not GIFTED.

Please, let's not let this Farmville jargon take over the net, including Slashdot. Nothing was 'gifted' unless it had certain special qualities. Things are given, not gifted.

Language changes. But not because fucking Zynga made a game.

Depends. "Given" just means something is passed onto someone. "Gifted" means something (an object only) is passed onto to someone as a gift. It's a more specific, more concise word.

You give gifts (or you gifted someone something). You give CPR (you don't gift it - the action is not something you can give to someone else. You TRAIN people in CPR). I was given a DVD from my friend who lent it to me.

Gifted is NOT a synonym for given. To gift something means to give them some _thing_ to someone without expectations of anything in return (i.e., a gift). But to be given something doesn't tell squat about what you received - perhaps it was loaned out to you, or you expected it as the result of something else (I asked my co worker for a thumbdrive, he gave me his).

In fact, there are two distinct meanings. See this example - "The barista gave me the coffee" vs. "The barista gifted me the coffee". They don't mean the same thing. The former means well, I got a coffee, perhaps because I ordered it and paid for it. The latter means I got a coffee "on the house" or it was complimentary.

In this case, "given" would be unspecific - was he given the ICs because it was his job and never returned them? Or was he gifted them which mean unquestionably that they are his to do as he wishes?

Does it work? (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 4 months ago | (#47268549)

Bet it don't work anymore.

History (1)

Snufu (1049644) | about 4 months ago | (#47268605)

Nice to see people appreciate the history. Hope it eventually ends up in a museum somewhere alongside the firsts from Noyce, BBS, et al.

Centuries from now the history of civilization may divided into periods BIC and AD (Before Integrated Circuits and Anno Digital TM)

Re:History (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47268803)

"...the history of civilization may divided into periods BIC and AD (Before Integrated Circuits and Anno Digital )"

                      which makes more sense than the division of time we currently suffer under.

Jack Kirby? (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 4 months ago | (#47268913)

I'm assuming Stan Lee took credit for Jack Kirby's integrated circuit. Excelsior!

bogus patent example (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 4 months ago | (#47269627)

Putting more than one transistor on a single die was an inevitable result of improvements in semiconductor process technology. There should NEVER have been a patent for that obvious step (or the single-chip microprocessor, or much of anything else in the 75 years).

So... (1)

TheSync (5291) | about 4 months ago | (#47269673)

So what kind of circuit is it?

I assume it is BJT based?

Place in history is unclear to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47269697)

Despite the accolades, Kilby's proper place in history is unclear to me. Because of its reliance on wire bonding, his design was not scalable to large numbers of transistors. The "planar" design at Fairchild was the future because its "wires" were produced by the same process that made the transistors. It seems clear that somebody was going to recognize that if you could make one transistor on a piece of germanium by a chemical engineering process, you could make two, and stick them together with little gold wires. Forgive me but I don't see the Nobel prize in that. The genius of "planar" was that it didn't end with the limitations of bonding pads.

Small OS (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47269803)

Yes, it runs Minux

It belongs in a museum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47270705)

Seriously, it does belong in a museum. This is a vital artifact of human history. There are darn few firsts we can place in a museum that have been so critical to human history, but this is one. It's like putting the coals of the first man-made fire in a museum.

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