EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Jacques Pankove

 

Biographic Note

 

Dr. Jacques I. Pankove obtained his BSEE in 1944 and his MSEE in 1948, both from the University of California.  He joined the RCA Laboratories shortly thereafter in 1948.  This timeframe coincided with the initial work on transistors done at RCA, and Dr. Pankove was instrumental in developing the alloy junction transistor technology at the RCA Labs.  In 1956, he was awarded a “David Sarnoff Fellowship” to study at the University of Paris, France, where he was granted a Ph.D.  His doctoral research topic there was the study of infrared radiation from surface properties of germanium.  He has been active in the field of semiconductor research ever since, authoring over 250 papers, a textbook, 10 edited volumes, and has over 93 patents issued. 

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This is a scan of early Radio Frequency alloy junction transistors developed in 1953 by Jacques Pankove and Charles Mueller, and described in the their paper “A PNP Triode Alloy Junction Transistor for Radio-Frequency Amplification”, published in Dec 1953 RCA Review.  This device improved on the existing audio frequency transistors, type TA153, which had been developed by Pankove, Mueller, Law and Armstrong at RCA in 1952.  The SX160 offered much better high frequency performance (up to 75 MHZ) and was immediately used by RCA researchers to build all-transistor radio receivers.     

 

Oral History – Jacques Pankove

 

This Oral History was taken in May 2001.

 

I joined RCA in 1949 after receiving an MS in Electrical Engineering from Berkeley where I had built a Morse code Translator that I had invented during my 2+ years in the army.  This invention was in reaction to an intense dose of Morse code in my makeup class during my field artillery training.  In retrospect, this translator was a great example of creativity involving diverse disciplines: software (how to decipher the dot and dash code), electronic circuits, optics (to make luminous characters appear at a central visual spot).

 

With this diverse background, RCA asked me to work on the transistor that had been discovered recently at Bell Labs.  Ed Herold, the director of our laboratory at RCA said, “We do not know yet if this will be an important device, but just in case, we must learn more about it.  Do you know anything about the transistor?”  I answered: “ On the way over from California to New jersey, I bought the latest issue of Scientific American that had the first popularized article on the transistor.”  He replied, “Great! We think we should characterize the germanium semiconductor that is used, and for this we must measure the Hall Effect.”  I interrupted with my still strong French accent, “Do you mean the Fermi-Dirac hole?”  “What? No, the H-A-L-L Effect”.  I said that I had never heard of this but would be willing to study – this was my entry into a long career in semiconductors. 

 

Go To Pankove Oral History, Page 2

 

 

 

COPYRIGHT © 2001 by Jack Ward.  All Rights Reserved.  http://www.transistormuseum.com/

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