Integrated circuits have come a long way in the last 50 years and like all technology, started from humble beginnings. Take the first prototype of the microchip from Texas Instruments, the work of Tom Yeargan and Jack Kilby back in 1958. This piece of electronic memorabilia is still kicking around today, in fact, it just went to auction via Christie's, together with a letter from Yeargan on its history. Sadly, the chip failed to sell, though the highest bid was high, to put it lightly.
The original press release from Christie's puts the value of the chip between $US1-$US2 million, however, as The Wire's Polly Mosendz reports, it failed to meet the reserve price. The final offer came in at a staggering $US850,000, which given the choice, I'd have been happy to pocket.
The chip itself is crafted on a "doubly diffused germanium wafer" and features leads made from gold wire. It's stuck to a glass plate and covered by a plastic case, so it's reasonably well protected, though if you were going to cough up that much cash for it, I imagine you'd have a vault made of vibranium-adamantium alloy on hand.
There's no mention if the chip will be auctioned again (perhaps with a lower reserve), but if you missed the opportunity to own this precursor to modern computing and have a lazy one million sitting around, you just got a second chance.