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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).
Now a veterans' rehabilitation home, in 1975 it was the Sundowner Motel, and the temporary home, according to at least one account, of young Bill Gates and Paul Allen. This was the place where they polished off their first microcomputer BASIC, for the 8080A-based Altair 8800, before setting up Microsoft in shared office space nearby. Although MITS, the company that built the Altair, was supposed to get the rights to the BASIC after a certain amount of royalties had been paid, there was some disagreement as to whether this happened. Gates and Allen won the subsequent arbitration and kept the rights to the BASIC, which was Microsoft's main money-spinner until MS-DOS.
Real-life visiting potential: 2/10, unless it's been a bad war.