Twenty Years Ago A Man Moved Atoms, and Made a Sign for IBM

Well, IBM did foot the bill. PhysOrg.com writes:

[On September 28,] 1989, IBM Fellow Don Eigler became the first person in history to move and control an individual atom. Shortly thereafter, on November 11 of that year, Eigler and his team used a custom-built microscope to spell out the letters IBM with 35 xenon atoms. This unprecedented ability to manipulate individual atoms signaled a quantum leap forward in in nanoscience experimentation and heralded in the age of nanotechnology.

Eigler built his scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in order to visualize and experiment with individual molecules and atoms. As he experimented, he discovered that it was possible to slide individual atoms across a surface using the tip of his STM. To demonstrate both the atomic precision and reproducibility he achieved, he wrote the letters “IBM” with with 35 xenon atoms, each positioned with atomic-scale precision.

Here’s the corporate video from Big Blue: