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I understand that drug patents are worth a lot of money. However, I wonder what the most valuable computer patents in history have been, both hardware and software.

It's almost surely not PageRank. Beside the fact that it is just the first principal component and may or may not hold up, iterating a few times over the matrix will give a result that is almost as good. Bing is not hampered by lack of access to PageRank.

The blue LED was ultimately worth only $9 million to its inventor.

Maybe the transistor? Or IC's? Or ... ?

I know patents can be difficult to value, but many were directly licensed. Others were the foundations of companies.

What is the top-10 list here?

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Unless a company divulges the revenue from an individual patent it's impossible to say, but IBM, Microsoft, Nokia.... all declare billions in license revenue. – arober11 Apr 1 '15 at 11:29

Ironically, the EFF's "patent busting project" ( can probably be used as a list of high value computer patents. These are patents that the EFF believes threaten the viability of the internet. I would just caution that their summary "busted" or "invalidated" notations aren't always accurate. I know at least one patent that has had claims emerge from re-exam but is still listed as invalidated.

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