Jeff of MightyOhm has a nice writeup about Scot Satre, who in 2004 achieved his dream of designing and producing his own application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). Instead of learning how to fabricate transistors himself, he used a service called MOSIS. MOSIS works by splitting the set-up cost of making integrated circuits among many people, by combining all of their designs onto a single wafter. This is similar to what sites like BatchPCB do for circuit board production. While I don’t predict that individuals will start flocking to make their own chips (it still costs tens of thousands of dollars), it is in the range of what dedicated groups could probably afford to do.
I actually got to use this service once, as part of an honors electronics class in college. We designed a test chip and sent it away for fabrication, however I graduated before it came back. I wonder if it worked! [via mightyohm]