Smithsonian Chips

The Smithsonian Chip Collection website launched in 1998 to provide access to our exceptional collection of microelectronics objects and images. The site contained information about individual donations of objects, images and documentation tracing the history of integrated circuits. Most of that information was later duplicated on other Smithsonian websites or can now be found in other locations on the web. The Chips Collection website was retired in 2023.

Screenshot of the Smithsonian Chips website home page
This screenshot captures the home page of the former Smithsonian Chips website. View an archived site snapshot.

In the 1990s, staff at the National Museum of American History undertook a collecting initiative to document the history of integrated circuits. Building on several earlier donations, and with support from industry partners and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, many additional objects and archival material were added to the museum’s holdings. Electricity Collections staff and volunteers photographed objects, scanned images, transcribed documents, and built this website. The website provided a window into the early decades of integrated circuit development, and included chip art, definitions of terms, interviews and biographies of developers, important patents, and (with permission) a run of Don C. Hoefler's journal Microelectronics News and Stan Augarten’s book State of the Art.

For access to the objects, you may search the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center. For access to the archives, you may visit the NMAH Archives Center’s Collections page. Patents may be viewed on the US Patent & Trademark Office site.