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Images: Owners, inventors don't always cash in

AT&T and Busicom are among those that never truly cashed in on some remarkable inventions they once owned outright.

Owners, inventors don't always cash in

From left: John Bardeen, William Shockley (seated) and Walter Brattain. The three invented the transistor while working at AT&T's Bell Labs, and they later shared the Nobel Prize in physics for the breakthrough. AT&T, however, never really cashed in on the invention.

Credit: AT&T

John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, William Shockley

Owners, inventors don't always cash in

The Intel 4004, the world's first microprocessor, debuted in 1971. The rights to the chip initially belonged to a Japanese calculator maker called Busicom, which commissioned Intel to build it in 1969. By the time the chip came out, calculator prices had dropped, and Busicom wanted a discount. Intel agreed--on the condition that it could sell the 4004 outside the calculator market.

Credit: Intel

Busicom processor