The Coding Monkey

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Microchip Easter Eggs?

Via Engaget is this fascinating article on CNET about chip designers who design in art onto the physical circuits:

More than 10 years ago, Michael Davidson went looking to capture the beauty of microchip circuitry in photographs. In among the transistors and wire traces, he found something unexpected: Waldo.

"When I first saw him, he was upside-down, and I didn't recognize his face," the Florida-based cell biology researcher said.

Davidson suspected at first that the tiny design he saw was circular patterns added to the chip to thwart attempts by reverse-engineers to deduce its inner workings. But a second inspection showed it to be the characteristically hard-to-find character from the children's book series. "I realized, 'This is a doodle of some kind.' Then I started looking over the whole chip. I discovered Daffy Duck and other things on that chip," Davidson said.

That was just the start of a catalog that now holds more than 100 images of extremely small automobiles, dinosaurs, birds of prey, cartoon characters and even a wedding announcement silhouette--all tucked away among microchip circuits. Davidson calls the collection the Silicon Zoo.

You can see a small gallery of the images here. The photographer's site is here.


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