The earliest transistors were of
the point contact type. I soon found that the easiest way to make such a
transistor was to buy two Western Electric diodes, crack their bakelite
case and remove two small pig-tailed cubes of Ge and two tungsten
whiskers. With these components it was easy to assemble point contact
transistors just like the ones used at Bell Labs. Some of these devices
worked, but all were noisy. My first long term study was to measure the
transistor performance as a function of whisker pressure.
My immediate supervisor was Dr.
Jerome Kurshan, who teamed me with an older, more experienced researcher
named Dr. Charles Mueller. Charlie was an expert on small vacuum tubes who
had carefully compiled data on every tube type to identify the importance
of a small change in the fabrication process. He was very conservative and
cautious of innovations. His favorite response to a new suggestion was “Maybe
Yes and then, Maybe No.” We worked together to develop the first alloy
junction transistors at RCA.
The early years at RCA were
exciting. I could try anything I wanted and enjoyed interpreting the
results and getting wise inputs from many experienced experts. This was
better than graduate school. I also had opportunities to attend
conferences and meet other researchers with similar interests, thus getting
deeper into the physics and technology of the devices we were making and