The first transistors, developed
in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, had limited performance
characteristics, especially when compared with today’s mature silicon technology.
A major limitation of early germanium transistor technology was low power
handling capability. It was only in the mid to late 1950s that commercial
germanium devices were available which were capable of handling several
watts of power – these first power transistors were limited in terms of
frequency performance and were used primarily as low frequency (audio)
Another unique aspect of early
power transistor development is that many manufacturing companies were
active in research and commercialization of germanium power transistor
technology. Some of these companies were active in this area for only a
few years, and the device types developed were experimental in nature and
often sold in limited quantities, with sparse or non-existent documentation.
As a result, there has not been much reference material available for the
modern semiconductor historian for this very important aspect of transistor
The Transistor Museum™ is very
pleased to be able to host the new and authoritative “Survey of Early
Power Transistors” by Joe Knight, with the intent of providing the most
comprehensive, accurate and highly readable survey of the many unique power
transistor types, manufactured in the first two decades of transistor
Note: Photographs and text have been provided by Joe Knight,
and are used with permission. All Rights are Reserved.