EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Herb Meisel

 

Historic Note

 

Herb Meisel worked at semiconductor engineering for RCA for 36 years from 1953 to 1989. During those last two years, RCA was acquired by GE and then the Semiconductor  Operation was sold to Harris. Herb's early transistor work was on: developing processes for germanium transistors; developing single , double, and triple diffused silicon power devices; and designing and developing power hybrid modules. He worked as an engineer, senior engineer and engineering group leader.  In 1955, Frank Tobin and he each received one of the Tube Division's Golden Achievement awards for developing the miniature 2N105 hearing aid transistor. In 1957, he won the David Sarnoff Fellowship for a year of graduate study in Physics at Stevens Institute. He received the MS in Physics in 1959, completing the requirements on a part time basis. In 1965, his team received  RCA Electronics Components awards for developing and bringing into production the 2N3054 and 2N3055 family of rugged, low cost silicon power transistors. Other team members were Jerry Wright, Bill Planey, and Hans Menzel. Herb is co-inventor on 5 U.S. Patents.

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Oral History – Herb Meisel

This History was provided by Mr. Meisel

in February,  2001.

 

I graduated from Rensselaer in 1950 with a B.M.E. After a brief stint as a test engineer at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, with the Korean Conflict flaring up, in 1951 I enlisted in the USAF. I worked as a mechanic on jet aircraft, attended and then taught a course on Rocket Propulsion, received a direct commission as a 2nd Lt and attended Electronics Officers Course at Keesler AFB. With the Korean truce imminent, Sec. of Defense Wilson cut the budget and I was honorably discharged in 1953. My former college roommate, Joel Ollendorf, was working at RCA on transistors and recommended that I apply. I had a good image of RCA - we had used the RCA Tube Manual as one of our textbooks in the Air Force Electronics course. I applied and was hired in Aug. 1953 as a development engineer in the Semiconductor Development Shop. Art Chettle was the manager; he was one of the best! We were almost all young engineers and we called him "Pops" but not to his face. In these early days, the Design engineers and the Development Shop engineers worked together in a hands-on mode on the various development projects. Many "brainstorming sessions" were held to generate approaches to these exciting new problems.

 

My first major assignment was on solder sealing  germanium transistors. The surface oxide of germanium was very moisture sensitive and in the "standard" araldite epoxy packaging, the device junctions would develop unacceptably high leakage current levels and unstable gain, especially during the summer.

 

Go To Meisel Oral History, Page 2

 

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