The first microchip goes on auction, no one buys it

Jack Hyslop, science specialist for Christie's, displays a 1958 prototype of a microchip before auction on June 17, 2014 in New York City. The microchip helped inventor Jack Kilby win the Nobel prize and was expected to sell for $1,000,000 - $2,000,000.

A major auction house had a big ticket item up for sale earlier this week. It was not a painting by the father of French Impressionism. It was however, a work of art in its own right: The prototype for the world's first integrated circuit. The first microchip, mounted on a piece of glass.

Christie's tried to sell it yesterday; Auctioneers called it, "virtually the birth certificate of the modern computing era." They estimated it would sell for more than a million dollars.

In the end, no one wanted it -- or no one was willing to pay enough for it.

It didn't sell.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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