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In 1980, IBM reacted very badly when Atari came to them with a plan for an IBM-branded Atari PC. In a fit of pique, Big Blue decided to do one itself, and assembled a team — called the Dirty Dozen — in one of its more obscure outposts, the Florida site at Boca Raton. The results are well known. Less well known is the fate of the Boca Raton site, which was subsequently sold to a facilities management company and turned into the T-REX Corporate Center. The building in the picture, however, is IBM Bulding 051, which was turned into a school and named the Don Estridge High-Tech Middle School, in honour of the head of the PC design team after his death in an aircrash in 1985.
Real-life visiting potential: 3/10. Just another piece of corporate America.
It's a chip-fabrication plant now, but when it was opened on 23 June, 1958 — by a signal picked up from America's first orbiting satellite — it was a development lab and home to new hire Jack Kilby. And no sooner had everyone moved in, than they went on their two-week vacation. All except Jack, who was too new to have earned any. Desperate to avoid having to wire up thousands of tiny connections for transistorised modules when everyone came back, he used his time in the empty lab to come up with the idea of making all the components in a module out of a single piece of semiconductor, thus creating the idea of the integrated circuit. Forty-two years later, that got him the Nobel Prize.
Real-life visiting potential: 1/10. The local dignitaries have erected a plaque outside the plant, but the place itself is not open for visitors. And North Dallas is a long way to go to see a plaque.
The actual labs where Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley invented the transistor in 1947 are some way north of here, but this is much more in keeping with the sightseeing ethos. It's a 60-foot water tower, erected during the building of new labs in 1961, in the shape of a giant three-legged transistor. If an Intel quad-core Xeon was built with transistors that size, it would be around 150km per side. In other words, it would cover an area bounded by London, Bristol, Birmingham and Peterborough.
Real-life visiting potential: 8/10. (Would be 10/10 for the entire Xeon).