WELCOME TO THE TRANSISTOR
PRESERVING THE HISTORY
GREATEST INVENTION OF THE 20TH CENTURY
LAST UPDATED JANUARY 2023
WITH THIS DECEMBER REBOOT, WE
ARE NOW ACTIVELY UPDATING THE SITE WITH NEW EXHIBITS, ORAL HISTORIES,
DONATIONS AND SOME NEW EXCITING PROJECTS.
THANKS FOR ALL THE SUPPORT
AND CHECK BACK OFTEN AS
WE START A NEW PHASE OF
EXPANSION OF THIS SITE.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO COMMENT ON
THE MUSEUM SITE OR CONSIDER DONATING HISTORIC DEVICES OR DOCUMENTATION,
PLEASE CONTACT ME AT:
CURATOR, TRANSISTOR MUSEUM ONLINE
NEW AND IMPORTANT UPDATES
The Transistor Museum is
very pleased and honored to post this Oral History highlighting Professor
Don Gurnett’s important contributions to space electronics and particularly
to Plasma Wave Physics. We interviewed Professor Gurnett in 2021 and this
resultant Oral History describes his early work with transistors, the
Iowa-3 satellite and the two Voyager spacecraft, which are now billions of
miles from earth travelling through interstellar space. Use this link for
Transistor Museum Professor
Don Gurnett Oral History.
ADDING A NEW SECTION TO THE MUSEUM
The Transistor Museum is
hard at work documenting the specific transistor types that were used in
building the satellites, spacecraft and missiles from the first days of space
exploration. The 1950s through the 1970s were important times for both
these technologies, and advancements in transistor technologies played a
very important role in advancing space flight capabilities. We are developing
a number of these documented transistor space histories and are planning on
expanding this Museum Section soon. Use this link to see our current histories
of early space-borne transistors:
First Transistors in
Space - Museum Index
Neil Walgenbach recently
donated these wonderful examples of 1950s germanium transistors
manufactured by Western Electric in Laureldale PA. Use the link below to
learn more about these historic devices and their important contribution to
the early U.S. satellite program.
Neil Walgenbach –
Historic Western Electric Transistors
75 YEARS OF
transistor in history came to life on December 16,1947 at Bell Labs in
Murray Hill, NJ. There are many recent stories, interviews and articles
commemorating this truly historic event. We recommend that Museum visitors
interested in celebrating the 75th anniversary of this
remarkable technology take a virtual tour of the “Inventing the Transistor”
presentation at the Computer History Museum. Also, see the excellent 75th
commemorative blog by David Laws at CHM. The photo
at left (Copyright © Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc) provides a good view of the
first transistor from 1947.
THE ABOVE PHOTO COLLAGE AND LINK DOCUMENTS JUST A FEW OF THE MANY
HISTORIC TRANSISTORS THAT WERE RECENTLY DONATED TO THE COMPUTER HISTORY
MUSEUM. THE CHM, LOCATED IN MOUNTAIN VIEW CA,
IS DEDICATED TO THE PRESERVATION AND CELEBRATION OF COMPUTER HISTORY.
THIS PHOTOESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED AS PART OF AN ONGOING COLLABORATION
BETWEEN THE CHM AND THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM, AND DOCUMENTS THE HISTORICALLY
IMPORTANT PAUL SULLIVAN SEMICONDUCTOR COLLECTION WHICH WAS DONATED TO THE
COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM BY PAUL’S DAUGHTER, PAT BELOTTI. THE
TRANSISTOR MUSEUM WISHES TO THANK THE COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM, AND
ESPECIALLY DAG SPICER, WHO IS
THE CHM “CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER” AND DAVID LAWS, THE “CHM
SEMICONDUCTOR CURATOR”, FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE INVOLVED IN THE
CURATION. WE ALSO WISH TO THANK PAT BELOTTI FOR HER GENEROUSITY AND
STEADFAST DEDICATION TO THE PRESERVATION OF HER FATHER’S SIGNIFICANT
CONTRIBUTIONS TO SEMICONDUSTOR HISTORY.
BEST KNOWN FOR ITS LONG-LIVED
RADIO AND TV NETWORKS, THE COLUMBIA BROADCAST SYSTEM WAS ALSO A
MANUFACTURER OF ELECTRON TUBES AND SEMICONDUCTORS. THE CBS “HYTRON”
DIVISION WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL LICENSEES OF TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY FROM
WESTERN ELECTRIC AND BEGAN PRODUCTION OF POINT CONTACT TRANSISTORS IN 1953.
ALTHOUGH CBS EXITED THE SEMICONDUCTOR BUSINESS IN THE EARLY 1960S, THIS
HISTORIC COMPANY DID PRODUCE COMPUTER SWITCHING AND POWER TRANSISTORS FOR
MANY OF THE FIRST TRANSISTORIED DIGITAL COMPUTERS. THIS PHOTO ESSAY
EXPANDS OUR ONGOING EFFORTS TO DOCUMENT HISTORIC EARLY GERMANIUM COMPUTER
TRANSISTORS. CHECK BACK OFTEN AS THIS PROJECT GROWS.
MIKE WARREN’S RECENT DONATION OF
EARLY WECO GERMANIUM TRANSISTORS PROVIDES INSIGHT INTO ONE OF THE FIRST
INDUSTRIAL USES OF TRANSISTORS. FOLLOW THE LINK ABOVE TO LEARN ABOUT THIS
THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM IS VERY
PLEASED TO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY SELECTED BY THE VENERABLE TUBE COLLECTORS
ASSOCIATION AS THE RECIPIENT OF THE 2015 SCHRADER AWARD. THIS PRESTIGIOUS
AWARD RECOGNIZES EXCELLENCE IN PRESERVING TUBES AND ASSEMBLING THEM INTO A
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT TCA CAN BE
LEARN ALL ABOUT THE HISTORY OF
DIODES, TRANSISTORS AND ICs, BEGINNING WITH THE FIRST CAT WHISKER DETECTORS
LOTS OF PHOTOS AND TECHNICAL
YOU CAN ALSO START YOUR OWN
HISTORIC SEMICONDUCTOR COLLECTION WITH THIS NEW TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
ABOUT THE FIRST TRANSISTORS IN SPACE. A NEW TRANSISTOR MUSEUM BOOK
REVIEW OF GEORGE LUDWIG’S
ACCOUNT OF HIS TRANSISTOR DESIGNS USED
FIRST U.S. SATELLITES - VANGUARD AND EXPLORER.
HISTORIC 1950s GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS
DONATION AND PHOTO ESSAY OF A UNIQUE COLLECTION
HISTORIC 1950s GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS
FROM JONATHAN HOPPE.
OF HISTORIC SEMICONDUCTORS
Donated by Ray Brack
Electric Type 3A
Marvelco J-2 Germanium
Germanium Transistors from Japan
Vintage: Late 1950s
Donated by Masahiro
These three transistors in the photo have been donated
to the Transistor Museum by Masahiro Nakahori. Mr. Nakahori is a Japanese
engineer with a strong interest in transistor history and has developed an
extensive collection of these unique devices. Sony was the first Japanese
company to purchase a license to manufacture transistors from Western
Electric, beginning in the mid-1950s. The Sony 2T76 shown in the photo is
from 1957 and illustrates the case style and color used by Sony for its
original commercial transistors. The Sony 2T76 and the NEC ST161 are NPN
grown junction types equivalent to the American TI 2N147 – used in early
radios as an IF amplifier. The Hitachi HJ17D is a PNP alloy junction type,
equivalent to an RCA 2N217.
Visit the Transistor Museum
Photo Gallery for More Info on the
Superb Historic Semiconductor Website
Layer Transistor Diodes
Vintage: Late 1950s
Donated by Ludwell
William Shockley established the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories at 391
South Antonio Road in Palo Alto, Ca. This was the first semiconductor
company established in what would later be known as Silicon Valley.
Shockley’s primary product was the 4 layer diode, also known as the
Shockley diode or the transistor diode. Samples of these 45+ year old
devices, shown in the photo above, have recently been donated by Ludwell
Sibley. Lud is quite well known as an authority/collector of vacuum tubes,
and has been kind enough to provide these solid state devices to the
museum. Use the two links below to learn more about Lud’s work, and also
to learn more about Shockley diodes.
(4 Layer Diodes) Photo Essay
Donated by Hans Camenzind
timer IC is the most successful integrated circuit yet designed, as
measured by the number of units sold (billions) and the longevity of the
original design (unchanged since 1971). The devices in the above photo are
working prototypes from the initial pilot run at Signetics in 1971, and
have been donated to the Museum by Hans Camenzind – the designer of the
historic 555 integrated circuit. You’ll learn all the details about the
design and development of this unique IC in the Hans Camenzind Oral
Type C2A Germanium
Donated by Nikolai
Soviet transistors became available in the mid-1950s. These first devices
were germanium and represented both of the major types of transistors
available worldwide at the time – junction and point contact. The point
contact type quickly became obsolete and limited numbers were
manufactured. Above is a 1957 type C2A Soviet point contact transistor,
shown next to a classic Western Electric A1729 point contact transistor
from the early 1950s. Early Soviet transistor development is poorly
documented in the West, and devices of this type are very rare.
Point Contact Transistors
Donated by Sanford
devices are very historic and are the earliest examples of transistors
currently on display at the museum. In 1949 Mr. Sanford Barnes began work
at Hughes Aircraft as an engineer in the newly formed transistor
development group. His assignment was to investigate the potential for the
use of transistor technology in Hughes’ aircraft applications. These four
devices were made by Mr. Barnes in an effort to evaluate the suitability of
coaxial, or opposed surface, point contact transistors which had been
recently developed at Bell Labs. You can read about this pioneering work
in the Sanford Barnes Oral
Vintage: Early to
Donated by Craig
became a dominant transistor manufacturer in the late 1950s, with primary
success related to germanium power transistor devices, such as the 2N176,
intended for use in the rapidly expanding automobile radio market. Prior to
large scale commercialization, Motorola engineers developed experimental
prototype devices, two of which are shown above. The larger blue
transistor is a five watt experimental germanium power transistor from
1955. The smaller device is an EP-7 experimental point contact transistor,
likely developed in the early 1950s as Motorola first began investigating
the new transistor technology. Thanks to Craig Carter for making these
unique and historic semiconductors available to the museum. You can learn
more about these devices through these links:
Germanium Power Transistor
Donated by Ray Brack
in the mid-1950s, Delco established an active transistor program. This
effort resulted in the production of millions of germanium transistors,
primarily intended for the automobile radio market. Most notable were
germanium power transistors designed for car radio audio output – as shown
above, the quantity of this type of transistor manufactured by Delco
reached 25 million in 1963. Many thanks to Ray Brack for donating this
unique device. Ray has been active in the designing and repairing
electronic equipment for many years, and he has been saving the device
shown above for a long time, hoping to find an appropriate museum.
Transistor Company GT66, 2N318
Donated by Dennis
Transistor Corporation was a premier manufacturer of germanium alloy
junction transistors in the latter part of the 1950s. The company was
founded by engineers and managers who had originally been associated with
another early transistor manufacturer, Radio Receptor. One of the most
unique and historic germanium transistor devices was the photo transistor,
and General Transistor was a primary supplier, with the product sold
initially as the GT66 and later as the 2N318. This device is very similar
to the Radio Receptor RR66 photo transistor. The above device (note date
code of 1956, week 52) has been donated to the Transistor Museum by Dennis
Uhlich, who was convinced that this was a unique device, although there
wasn’t much research information available on the internet. Dennis’
contribution included the device, along with a comprehensive data sheet.
You can learn more about the history of this type of phototransistor with
Art Rossoff Oral
PhotoGallery Link to
1951 Raytheon CK716
Germanium PNP Alloy
Junction, serial# A-5043
RCA TA-153 Developmental Transistor
Point Contact Transistors
Left: Westinghouse WX3347
Middle: CBS PT-2A
Right: RCA TA-165
Early Germanium Transistors
Left: Western Electric 1858 NPN Grown
CK722 PNP Alloy Junction
Right: GE Type ZJ3-1
Prototype and Early Production Germanium Transistors
Donated by Dave Larson
technology was evolving rapidly in the 1950s, and many companies developed
intriguing experimental and prototype devices as the design and
manufacturing technologies matured. The transistors shown above are
historically interesting devices that provide an excellent overview of the
widely varied case styles and construction technologies of the very early
production and prototype processes. Many thanks to Dave Larson for the
generous donation to the museum of these transistors (and a number of other
related devices). Dave also provided these comments: “Thanks for the info.
I am glad they are in a safe place where they will be archived for future
generations to enjoy! As far as the reference to the donor. Please put them
in memory of my father Meyer H. Axler, who worked on early transistor
development projects at Bell Labs and Baird Atomic. I am looking forward to
seeing them on the virtual museum. Thanks for all you are doing on behalf
of early research scientists like my father.”
PHOTO ESSAYS AND TRANSISTOR MUSEUM ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLES ON TECHNOLOGIES,
COMPANIES AND PEOPLE IMPORTANT TO THE EARLY HISTORY OF TRANSISTORS
TRANSISTOR MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY DEVELOPING A SERIES OF PHOTOESSAYS ON
GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS. DIGITAL COMPUTERS FROM THE 1950S AND 1960S
WERE THE FIRST COMPUTERS TO USE TRANSISTORS AND THIS ONGOING PROJECT
DOCUMENT THE MAJOR IMPACT OF EARLY TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY ON COMPUTER
THESE LINKS TO SEE COMPLETED CHAPTERS:
GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS
GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS
A SURVEY OF EARLY POWER TRANSISTORS:
JOE A. KNIGHT HAS DEVELOPED A COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF THE
FIRST GERMANIUM AND SILICON POWER TRANSISTORS, FROM THE 1950s/1960s.
INCLUDES EXTENSIVE PHOTOGRAPHY.
A SURVEY OF EARLY
POWER TRANSISTORS BY JOE A. KNIGHT
HERE IS A
NEW PHOTOGALLERY ARTICLE.
ABOUT THE VANGUARD I SATELLITE AND THE EXCITING
TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY THAT POWERED
THE RADIO TRANSMITTERS IN THIS HISTORIC SATELLITE.
THE TRANS-AIRE RADIO STORY:
A 1950s/60s U.S. COMPANY MAKES GOOD USE OF THOUSANDS OF REJECT
TRANSISTORS FROM RAYTHEON, GE AND FAIRCHILD.
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
INTERVIEW WITH JOE D'AIRO
RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY TRANSISTOR RADIO
TECHNOLOGY AT ZENITH RADIO CORPORATION.
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
INTERVIEW WITH RAY ANDREJASICH
THE FIRST RCA TRANSISTOR RADIOS:
TOM STANLEY RECOUNTS MANY OF THE EXCITING AND AS YET
UNPUBLICIZED ASPECTS OF THE WORK AT RCA LABS IN THE 1950s ON EARLY
TRANSISTOR DEVICES AND APPLICATIONS.
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS O. STANLEY
ON SEPT 18, 1956, GUS FALLGREN OF CHELMSFORD MA. COMPLETED THE
FIRST DOCUMENTED TRANS-ATLANTIC AMATEUR RADIO CONTACT USING A
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM INTERVIEW WITH GUS FALLGREN
(W1OG), AL HANKINSON (KC3QU) AND DICK WRIGHT (W1UC)
STARTING IN 1955, RAYTHEON PRODUCED A SERIES OF IRIDESCENT,
BRIGHT BLUE GERMANIUM TRANSISTORS. HERE IS THE HISTORY
OF THESE UNIQUE TRANSISTORS.
BLUES" PHOTO ESSAY
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INTRODUCED THE FIRST COMMERCIAL SILICON
TRANSISTORS IN 1954. BILL BROWER WORKED AS AN ENGINEER WITH THESE HISTORIC
DEVICES AND PROVIDES TECHNICAL DETAILS
AND PERSONAL RECOLLECTONS.
TRANSISTOR MUSEUM INTERVIEW WITH BILL BROWER
A TRULY HISTORIC TECHNOLOGY - THE
“SHOCKLEY DIODE” WAS DEVELOPED IN THE LATE 1950s AT THE SHOCKLEY
SEMICONDUCTOR LABORATORIES, THE FIRST SILICON VALLEY COMPANY.
SHOCKLEY (4 LAYER) DIODE PHOTO ESSAY
THE METAL CARTRIDGE VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL POINT CONTACT
TRANSISTOR (DESIGNATED “TYPE A”) WAS DEVELOPED AT BELL LABS
IN 1948, AND WAS THE FIRST TRANSISTOR ROBUST
ENOUGH TO BE MANUFACTURED IN QUANTITY.
BELL LABS "TYPE A" POINT CONTACT
TRANSISTOR PHOTO ESSAY
THE PLASTIC BEAD TYPE POINT CONTACT TRANSISTOR REPRESENTS AN
IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN TRANSISTOR HISTORY, DEVELOPED IN THE EARLY 1950s AS
A POTENTIAL LOW COST ALTERNATIVE
TO THE INITIAL METAL CATRIDGE “TYPE A”.
BELL LABS "BEAD TYPE" POINT CONTACT
TRANSISTOR PHOTO ESSAY
THE PLASTIC BEAD TYPE POINT CONTACT TRANSISTOR REPRESENTS AN
IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN TRANSISTOR HISTORY, DEVELOPED IN THE EARLY 1950s AS
A POTENTIAL LOW COST ALTERNATIVE
BELL LABS “TYPE M1752” GERMANIUM GROWN JUNCTION
THE EARLY HISTORY OF TRANSISTORS IN GERMANY:
RUDI HERZOG HAS DEVELOPED A COMPREHENSIVE HISTORY OF THE FIRST
TRANSISTORS IN GERMANY, STARTING 1952.
THE EARLY HISTORY OF
TRANSISTORS IN GERMANY BY RUDI HERZOG
ARTHUR L. ROSSOFF IS CO-AUTHOR OF THE INFLUENTIAL TEXT TRANSISTOR
ELECTRONICS PUBLISHED IN 1957 BY MCGRAW HILL. IN THIS INTERVIEW, ART
PROVIDES HIS PERSPECTIVE ON 1950s TRANSISTOR TECHNOLGY AS DOCUMENTED IN
THIS HISTORIC TEXT.
A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
INTERVIEW WITH ART ROSSOFF
This area of the Transistor Museum™ may
be the most useful and informative for those visitors who are interested in
the history of transistors. Here you’ll find first-hand and personal
accounts from those engineers and scientists who were actually involved in
creating and advancing this remarkable technology.
DEVICE ENGINEERING FOR THE U.S. ARMY SIGNAL CORPS
IN THE 1950s/1960s
Soon after the June 1948 public announcement of the
invention of the transistor by Bell Labs, the U.S. military actively
promoted the industrial development of this technology for military use. Throughout
the 1950s and 1960s, the Signal Corps established and funded hundreds of
industry contracts with transistor companies to assure availability of
specific transistor types meeting military requirements. Bernard Reich was
actively involved in this historic Signal Corps work and has authored numerous
articles documenting important early transistor types.
THE 1950s DEVELOPMENT
OF THE SILICON CONTROLLED RECTIFIER (SCR) AND THE TRIAC AT GE
30+ year career at GE, Bill Gutzwiller made substantial contributions to
the field of power semiconductor applications and devices, especially the
silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) and the Triac. You’ll learn all about
the development of these historic devices from Bill’s firsthand experiences
and recollections. If you’ve designed an SCR or Triac circuit,
studied these devices at school, or marveled at the wealth of material
contained in any of the numerous volumes of the famous GE SCR manuals, then
you’ve benefited from Bill’s work.
THE HISTORIC SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANY “TRANSITRON” IN 1952
Founded in 1952 by David and Leo Bakalar in an old mill
in Wakefield Massachusetts, Transitron Electronic Corporation became one of
the most successful semiconductor manufacturing companies in the world
within a few short years. By the mid to late 1950s, Transitron was in
the top two or three U.S. producers of diodes, rectifiers and transistors.
David Bakalar was the president of Transitron from 1952 to 1984 and his
substantial technical achievements with the development of such
breakthrough semiconductor devices as gold bonded germanium diodes and
silicon rectifiers were the primary basis for Transitron’s success.
This Transistor Museum™ Historic profile will provide historical
information on Transitron’s early semiconductor technology, as well as
recent comments from David Bakalar about his pioneering semiconductor work and
accomplishments over 50 years ago.
TRANSISTOR ENGINEER AND STARTING UP PRODUCTION OF POINT CONTACT TRANSISTORS
(Bob) Slade began his career in semiconductor technology in 1948 when he
became the first RCA “transistor engineer”, and has made major
contributions to the semiconductor field since that time. His early
work at RCA led to the 1953 introduction of the 2N32 and 2N33 point contact
transistors. Bob joined IBM in 1956 where he was responsible for
establishing the first germanium transistor production facility for that
company. He remained at IBM for 28 years and managed the computer
semiconductor production transition from germanium alloy transistors to
silicon integration. This Oral History provides an detailed look at
Bob’s impressive contributions to early transistor history at RCA,
including point contact transistor research and early germanium power
CLASSIC AND WELL REMEMBERED 1960s AND 1970s
BOOKS AND ARTICLES
Mr. Len Buckwalter’s technical publications from the
1960s and 1970s have had a major impact on many of us who were first
involved with transistor technology during that time. He authored
dozens of transistor construction project articles that appeared in
Electronics Illustrated magazine, where he was active as a technical editor
and column author. Len may best be remembered for his now legendary
books from the 1960s that were written primarily for the young hobbyists
and electronics experimenters of the day. If you built your first transistor
radio or audio oscillator with germanium transistors and still remember the
many pleasurable hours spent reviewing the latest construction projects
from Electronics Illustrated or “Having Fun with Transistors”, then Len
Buckwalter’s substantial contributions to transistor history have been
RICHARD S. BURWEN
PIONEER IN EARLY
TRANSISTOR HI-FI AND AUDIO CIRCUIT DESIGN
60 years, Dick Burwen has been actively involved in the electronics
industry, with noted accomplishments in the field of audio circuit
design. Since building his own amateur radio station (W1NMG) as a
youth in the 1940s, Dick’s prolific career has paralleled the growth of the
semiconductor industry and his work has been particularly influential in the
fields of semiconductor electronics and high performance audio equipment. The
list of Dick’s impressive professional achievements includes over thirty
historic audio and electronics publications, a substantial body of audio
and electronics patents and ongoing work as a renowned electronics and
audio consultant. Dick continues his groundbreaking work in audio
electronics with the recent release of Burwen Audio’s latest commercial
product, the Audio Splendor™ tone control and ambience generation software
GERMANIUM TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT MOTOROLA
During a 40 year career with
Motorola semiconductors, Ralph Greenburg first became involved with
transistor technology during the mid-1950s at a time when hand-made
prototype germanium devices were all that was available. He
participated in the development of the first transistor applications at
Motorola and was an editor and key contributor to several of the highly
successful Semiconductor Handbooks published by Motorola in the 1960s and
1970s. Ralph held senior technical and management positions in the
Motorola Semiconductor Applications groups and wrote numerous technical
publications on early transistor technology. This Oral History
provides a truly unique insight into the early days of transistor history
and Ralph’s ability to communicate in a cogent and entertaining manner
ensures you’ll enjoy this important account of early semiconductor
technology. You’ll also read (and hear) the details of the development of
the now-standard TO-3 “diamond shaped” power transistor case style, a
first for Motorola in 1955 and since used to manufacture billions of
DR. GEORGE LUDWIG
TRANSISTORS IN SPACE
Explorer I, the first U.S. earth
satellite, was successfully launched on February 1, 1958 (0348 Greenwich
Mean Time) from the Cape Canaveral missile center. The cosmic ray
instrumentation package on this satellite was designed by Dr. George
Ludwig, who was studying at that time at the University of Iowa in the
Cosmic Ray Lab under the guidance of Dr. James Van Allen. The
Explorer I instrumentation payload used transistor electronics, consisting
of both germanium and silicon devices. This was a very early
timeframe in the development of transistor technology, and represents the
first documented use of transistors in the U.S. earth satellite
program. In this Oral History, Dr. Ludwig provides a very informative
and highly readable account of the transistor electronics carried aloft in
the Explorer I satellite, and the details of Dr. Ludwig’s work with these
early semiconductor devices provides a truly unique perspective on these
historic events. In addition to the historic use of transistors, the
Explorer satellite instrumentation package achieved another major
scientific breakthrough – the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts.
PIONEERING 1960s SILICON TRANSISTOR PROGRAM
Corrigan’s career in the semiconductor industry has spanned over four
decades, beginning in 1960 with his first post-college job as a transistor
production engineer at Transitron. During the following 45+ years,
Wilf has been a technology innovator and semiconductor industry CEO.
He has been directly associated with several of the world’s premier
transistor and IC companies and his impact on the history of semiconductors
has been substantial. This Oral History will highlight Wilf’s
involvement with the legendary Motorola 1960s silicon transistor program, which
was a major milestone in the history of transistor technology.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE 2N2222
initial product launch by Motorola at the 1962 IRE Convention, the 2N2222
has become the most widely used and universally recognized transistor of
all time. Billions of units have been manufactured over the past 45
years and there is continuing high volume annual production. Whether you
are an engineer, experimenter, educator or amateur radio enthusiast, if you
have built a transistorized project over the past 45 years, then you have
likely encountered the ubiquitous 2N2222, the “universal transistor”.
This Oral History will highlight the personal recollections of Jack
Haenichen, whose pioneering work at Motorola in the early 1960s contributed
to the fundamental device and process breakthroughs that were key to the
phenomenal success of the 2N2222 and related silicon transistors.
WALTER H. MACWILLIAMS
THE FIRST “WORKING”
TRANSISTOR APPLICATION – THE GATING MATRIX
MacWilliams enjoyed a distinguished 36 year career with Bell Labs,
beginning in 1946 at Murray Hill working on the Mark 65 program, which was
a broad-based study of the defense of a combatant ship against a
coordinated air attack. It was during this work that Walter began
experimenting with the newly invented transistor to determine the
suitability of this device as a practical circuit element. His
development of the Transistor Gating Matrix in 1949 is credited as being
the first working transistor application. You’ll discover the details
of this unique story and hear Walter’s comments about using the first
transistors at Bell Labs.
CARL DAVID TODD
THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE
FAMOUS 2N107 TRANSISTOR
Todd has been involved with transistor engineering since the earliest days
of this technology. Carl’s first exposure to transistors was in 1949
as a high school student when he built a working point contact transistor.
He entered and won a prize in the 1954 Raytheon CK722 Transistor
Applications Contest, and was personally involved in the development of the
famous 2N107 hobbyist transistor when he worked for GE in the mid-1950s.
Read Carl’s Oral History for a first-hand account of his historic work with
the first transistors.
DEVELOPING TRANSISTOR DIGITAL
CIRCUITS FOR THE ”FLYABLE TRADIC” COMPUTER AND NIKE ZEUS MISSILES
Coonce joined Bell Labs in 1952, just at the time when the newly invented
transistor was made available for research and development. He worked
for many years at Bell Labs, developing transistor logic and switching
circuits. Most notable was Homer’s work on the Flyable TRADIC
computer, beginning in 1954. The TRADIC project spanned most of the
decade of the 1950s and is credited with establishing the transistor
computer as a viable product. In this Oral History, Homer recounts
his work on two historic Bell Labs/Western Electric transistor computer
applications – Flyable TRADIC and the Nike Zeus missile system.
INVENTING EMITTER COUPLED
LOGIC (ECL) TRANSISTOR COMPUTER CIRCUITS AT IBM IN THE 1950s
Hannon S. Yourke’s
30 year career with IBM began in 1955 when he joined the newly formed
transistor circuits group in Poughkeepsie. All IBM computers at the time were
vacuum tube based, and the transistor group had been formed to investigate
and develop the potential for transistors in future IBM products. He filed for patent 2,964,652
(Transistor Switching Circuits) in Nov 1956. This circuitry developed by
Mr. Yourke was known initially as current steering logic, but was later
called emitter coupled logic, or ECL, and became the dominant circuitry for
all high speed computer logic throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
DEVELOPING THE FIRST
TRANSISTOR IN 1952 AND THE LEGENDARY 1970s 1802 MCROPROCESSOR
Jerry Herzog’s 30 year career
in semiconductors began at RCA Labs in 1951, where he developed some of the
first applications for the newly emerging transistor technology. One of
Jerry’s most important contributions to transistor development was his
pioneering work on the first completely transistorized television receiver
- this unique device was developed at the RCA Labs in 1952 and represents a
major milestone in transistor history - this TV set is currently on display
at the Smithsonian. A separate section has been included at the
end of his Oral History to document this important early TV work. Jerry
provides personal and technical commentary about this historic project, as
well as other important contributions, including the 1802 microprocessor,
in this Oral History.
H. C. LIN
STARTING AT RCA IN 1950 AND
INVENTING THE QUASI COMPLEMENTARY TRANSISTOR AMP
Chang Lin has been associated with the semiconductor field for over 50
years, beginning in 1950 with his pioneering work at the RCA ISL labs
with early transistor circuitry. H.C. Lin is the holder of 57 U.S.
patents, and is the author/co-author of 170 technical papers and several
respected texts on semiconductors, including “Integrated Electronics,”
(Holden Day, 1967), “Selected Semiconductor Circuits Handbook,” (Wiley and
Sons, 1960), and “Semiconductor Electronics Education Committee Notes 1,”
(Wiley and Sons, 1963). In
the 1950s and 1960s, he worked at several key semiconductor companies,
including RCA, CBS/Hytron and Westinghouse. He was elected an IEEE Fellow “for
contributions to semiconductor electronics and circuits and pioneering of
PAUL PENFIELD JR.
PROLIFIC AUTHOR OF OVER 70
CLASSIC ARTICLES ON 1950s TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY
Professor Paul Penfield Jr.
was one of the first and most prolific authors of articles on the just
emerging transistor technology of the 1950s. These classic
articles were published in such widely read electronics magazines of the
day as Radio-TV News, Radio-Electronics, Audio and Audiocraft. If you were
an electronics experimenter, engineer, or hobbyist in the 1950s, and were
eager to learn about transistors and actually build a construction project
using these newly invented devices, it’s likely you read one of Paul’s
pioneering articles. Beginning in 1954, and continuing through
1958, Paul had more than 70 articles on transistors published in
electronics industry publications. This four year period represented a
rapidly changing time in transistor technology, and Paul’s well written
articles provided a readable and interesting account of these
STARTING AT RCA IN 1950 AND
INVENTING THE QUASI COMPLEMENTARY TRANSISTOR AMP
555 Integrated Circuit, produced initially by Signetics in 1972, is the
most successful IC yet designed, with billions of units manufactured by
multiple semiconductor companies over the past 30 years. Hans
Camenzind is the designer of this historic IC, and his Oral History offers
real insight into the original 555 design and development process. In
addition, Hans continues to be active as an analog IC designer and his
comments on the changes in the IC design process since the 1970s are very
informative and uniquely reflect the incredible amount of change that the
semiconductor industry has seen.
THE INVENTION OF THE
UNIJUNCTION TRANSISTOR AT THE GE ELECTRONICS LAB IN THE 1950s
Originally known as the “double-base
diode”, the unijunction transistor was invented at the General Electric
Electronics Lab in Syracuse in the early 1950s. This unique, single
“pn” junction device became a very big seller for GE in the late 1950s and
into the 1960s. In this new Oral History, Professor Jerry Suran
provides a first-hand account of his pioneering work over 50 years ago with
the development of the first unijunction transistor devices and
ART UHLIR JR.
INVENTING THE VARACTOR DIODE AT
BELL LABS AND PIONEERING WORK WITH POROUS SILICON
Jr was responsible for the development of the varactor diode at Bell Labs
in the 1950s. Over the past 50 years, this invention has become a
major component of the semiconductor industry. In this Oral History,
Art describes his work with these diodes, as well as discussing the early
days of transistor technology. Art also highlights his pioneering
work with porous silicon, which was conducted at Bell Labs in the 1950s,
working along with his wife, Inge.
EARLY TRANSISTOR AUDIO CIRCUITS AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE GE TRANSISTOR
Jones was employed at General Electric for forty years, from 1947 to
1987. He started at the
beginning of the GE’s transistor efforts and was involved with
semiconductors for most of his career. Dwight is the
author of numerous technical papers, holds several patents, and may be best
known to transistor engineers as a major contributor to the highly regarded
series of “Transistor Manuals” developed by General Electric in the 1950s
and 1960s. His many
contributions to early semiconductor applications include transistor audio,
test equipment, and SCR motor controls.
HUGHES AIRCRAFT IN 1951 AND WORKING WITH HARPER NORTH ON EARLY TRANSISTORS
Sanford (Sandy) Barnes has
been active in transistor technology for over 50 years, starting as a young
engineer in 1951 with the assignment of producing “hand-made” germanium
point contact transistors at Hughes Aircraft. He has held numerous research and
senior management positions with several key companies involved with semiconductor
development, including Hughes Aircraft, Pacific Semiconductors Inc, and
TRW. Sandy was very active in semiconductor research in the 1950s and 1960s
and was granted multiple patents in transistor and diode technology.
WORKING AT SHOCKLEY
TRANSISTOR CORPORATION IN 1958 AND DEVELOPING APPLICATIONS FOR SHOCKLEY
Gene P. Weckler has been
active in semiconductor technology since the late 1950s, with a career that
has taken him to such industry pioneering companies as Shockley Transistor
Corporation, Fairchild Semiconductor, and EG&G Reticon. His first major work assignment
after graduating with a BSEE from Utah State University in 1958 was as an
Applications Engineer at Shockley Transistor Corporation, the historic
company credited by many as the first semiconductor company in Silicon
DEVELOPING THE FIRST 1950s
GERMANIUM POWER TRANSISTORS
Fletcher has been active in multiple areas of physics for over 50
years. Professor Fletcher is a Fellow of the Australian Academy
of Science and of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and
Engineering. He has published five books and over 170 papers. His
important contributions to the development of germanium power transistor
technology were made in the 1950s, when he was working for an early pioneering
transistor company (Transistor Products Inc). TPI was purchased by
Clevite in the mid-1950s, and became a large-scale producer of germanium power
JOINING RCA IN 1955 AND
DEVELOPING THE CLASSIC 2N301 AND
2N404 GERMANIUM TRANSISTORS
Receptor's Germanium Research Department in 1954, Adolph Blicher‘s first
assignment was to develop high speed PNP germanium transistors that could
be used in computers and radio receivers. At this time, most available
transistors had performance suitable only for low frequency applications
such as hearing aids. DR. Blicher succeeded in developing RR’s first
computer transistor the RR156. In 1955, he began work at RCA and was
responsible for the development of a number of successful transistors types
including the 2N301 and the 2N404. His later work at RCA resulted in the
development of a series of germanium and silicon transistors with
ever-increasing high frequency and high speed switching response
RCA ON EARLY TRANSISTORSR, ICs AND THE HISTORIC NUVISTOR TUBES
Mendelson joined RCA in 1953 with an MS degree in Chemical
Engineering. He spent the next six years in the Methods and Process
Lab (M&P Lab), responsible for the hydrogen furnaces, electroplating,
and all chemical problems. He fully retired from RCA in 1989.
During those 36 years, Bob had the unique opportunity to work with several
key RCA technologies, including germanium transistors, silicon transistors,
integrated circuits and Nuvistors. He has authored numerous books and
articles (including two highly regarded 1960s articles on Nuvistors in the
RCA Ham News publication), and continues today an active ham radio operator
(W2OKO). Bob has been issued two U.S. patents.
FIRST TI TRANSISTORS WITH HAND-ASSEMBLY AND WATCHMAKERS TOOLS
“Mac” McBride worked at Texas Instruments from July 1953 until early
retirement in April 1975. This 20+ year career spanned the critical
early years in transistor technology and his Oral History provides insight
into the tremendous changes that occurred during this time. It is
interesting to note that Mr. McBride’s first assignment at TI was that of
assembler of point contact transistors, and that his earlier training as a
watchmaker provided the essential skills for this job. As you’ll
discover, the performance of these early transistors was quite
unpredictable and largely dependent on the precise mechanical placement and
adjustment of sharpened electrodes that held in place with glue!
MARY ANNE POTTER
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS IN THE EARLY 1960s ON EARLY ICs USED IN THE MINUTEMAN
Potter started to work at Texas Instruments on June 26, 1962, as a
process/product engineer on Minuteman ICs. Early on, she became the
lead process engineer for the quad-diffused IC designs at TI, and was
involved in some of the original and historic work on the first large scale
production of integrated circuits. Ms. Potter stayed at TI through
the 1960s, working with a variety of integrated circuit development
activities. Later, she was employed at a number of other well known
semiconductor companies, such as MOSTEK, AMI, and Fairchild. Ms. Potter
later returned to TI, where she became TI’s first female fab manager.
During the 1950s and 1960s, there
were a handful of companies that made major contributions to the
development of the transistor. Use the links below to visit
Transistor Museum exhibits constructed to document these historic
activities. You’ll find Oral Histories from many of the scientists
and engineers who implemented these important early transistor programs.
You’ll also find detailed information regarding early transistor literature
and descriptions of the major semiconductor advances made at these
LINKS TO FIND DOZENS OF ADDITIONAL ORAL HISTORIES FROM PIONEERS IN
Museum’s most popular exhibit. Here you’ll find photographs and
descriptions of unique and historic devices or applications relating to the
semiconductor history from the last century. Visit this exhibit to confirm
identity of devices you have found or just spend a rainy afternoon browsing
the exhibits. The Transistor Museum™ Photo Gallery has been established to
provide an easily accessible and informative repository of high quality
photographs and detailed information about many of the unique and historic
transistors, diodes and integrated circuits from the early days of this
exciting technology. This material should be an invaluable aid to
historians, experimenters, hobbyists and anyone else interested in learning
about the history of semiconductors and how these ubiquitous devices have
come to shape the modern world.
HISTORIC DEVICES SHOWN. CHECK BACK OFTEN AS WE ARE PLANNING A MAJOR UPDATE
TO THIS EXHIBIT.
LINKS OF SOME RECENT ADDITIONS TO THE GALLERY.
TO TI 2N335
Explorer 1, the first U.S. earth satellite, was launched in February 1958,
it carried aloft radiation detection circuitry designed by Dr. George
Ludwig – he used the newly released TI 2N335 silicon grown junction
transistor type for this unique and demanding application.
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS R212
(Polaris Missile Transistor)
One of the
first documented large scale military uses of transistors was the Polaris
missile program, which was initiated in 1956. The initial versions of
guidance computer used discrete transistor components, such as the R212.
This high reliability germanium device was supplied to the Polaris program
by TI throughout the 1960s.
about the first commercial transistors manufactured by Western Electric in
the 1950s. These are historic devices and represent an important aspect of
early transistor history.
TO MOTOROLA 2N705
germanium transistor technology was largely replaced by silicon in the
1960s, the diffused base germanium mesa type, developed in the late 1950s,
was one of the best high frequency performers for many years. Motorola and
TI were the leaders in this technology – the Motorola 2N705 was one of the
most commercially successful devices of this type.
The Transistor Museum™ Store has been
established to provide an easily accessible (and reasonably priced) source
of unique and historic transistors, diodes and integrated circuits from the
early days of this exciting technology. Use the Museum Store link to explore what’s available and to
compare the different types. In each case, you’ll find a link which
will take you to more details about the specific Museum offering and how to
purchase. To aid historians, experimenters, hobbyists and anyone else
interested in learning about transistors, each Transistor Museum™ device is
supplied with historical information, circuits and photos.
The Museum Store will soon be
expanding as we add many more unique and historically important
semiconductors of all types. In addition, every device that you
purchase will now include a Transistor Museum™ Historic Semiconductor Fact
Sheet, which is a full page-sized document containing a collection of
useful facts, pictures and commentary about the specific device. You
won’t find anything like this elsewhere, and you’ll likely spend many
rewarding hours reviewing this unique material and learning about semiconductor
LISTED BELOW ARE EXAMPLES OF
AVAILABLE AT THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM
Point Contact Transistor
1950s – 1960s
GE 2N43 2N44 2N45
PNP Alloy Junction
Electric Classic “Top- Hat” Styles from the 1950s & 1960s.
Fairchild uLogic® 923
RTL Integrated Circuit
One of the
First ICs Available. Used Extensively in Digital Logic.
Early 1950s. The First Transistor in Volume Production.
FIRST TRANSISTOR TYPE, GERRY FRITON HAS DEVELOPED A MODERN POINT CONTACT
TRANSISTOR CIRCUIT – AN AUDIO AMPLIFIER USING 60 YEAR OLD 2N23 TRANSISTORS.
YOU’LL ENJOY THE CONSTRUCTION DETAILS OF THIS UNIQUE PROJECT.
TRANSISTOR AUDIO OSCILLATOR
THE AUGUST 1956 EDITION OF RADIO
AND TV NEWS PUBLISHED A CLASSIC TRANSISTOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECT BY PAUL
PENFIELD JR. THIS TRANSISTOR MUSEUM CONSTRUCTION PROJECT IS BASED ON PAUL’S
ORIGINAL MID-CENTURY TRANSISTOR DESIGN.
THE VALANDY COMPANY INTRODUCED ONE
OF THE FIRST COMMERCIAL TRANSISTOR CONSTRUCTION KITS IN THE 1950s – A CODE
PRACTICE OSCULLATOR USING SURPLUS RAYTHEON HEARING AID TRANSISTORS.
YOU CAN BUILD AN ORIGINAL WITH
THIS MUSEUM LINK.
A CLASSIC 1950s
TRANSISTOR KIT – THE VALANDY CODE OSCILLATOR
FAIRCHILD’S uLOGIC ICs WERE
INTRODUCED IN THE EARLY 1960s AND WERE THE FIRST ICs GENRALLY AVAILABLE TO
THE PUBLIC. BILL JONES HAS RECONSTRUCTED A CLASSIC HAM RADIO “KEYER”
ORIGINALLY DESCRIBED IN A 1967 QST MAGAZINE.
BILL JONES (K8CU) -
MICRO “TO” KEYER REVISITED
NED ELY USES 1950s BLUE CK722
TRANSISTORS FOUND IN A BOX FROM HIS CHILDHOOD AND MODERN BLUE LEDs TO BUILD
SPECTACULAR FLASHING LIGHT
BLUE CK722s AND BLUE
LEDs COMBINE FOR A BLUE “BLINKER”
ANNOUNCED IN EARLY 1953, THE
RAYTHEON CK722 WAS THE FIRST TRANSISTOR AVAILBLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC.
THIS RADIO PROJECT WAS CREATED IN 2003 TO COMMEMORATE THE 50th
ANNIVERSARY OF THIS HISTORIC AND WELL REMEMBERED DEVICE.
BUILD THE 50th
ANNIVERSARY CK722 TRANSISTOR RADIO
RECOMMENDED BOOKS AND ARTICLES
AND INFORMATIVE SITES
SOME INTERESTING TRANSISTOR FACTS
1. The first transistor type, called point contact, was
invented at Bell Labs in December 1947 by John Bardeen and Walter
2. The invention of the transistor was made public in June
1948 at a press conference held by Bell Labs in New York City.
3. The second transistor type, called grown junction, was
developed at Bell Labs in 1950, based on the theoretical work of William
Shockley. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956 was awarded jointly to William
Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain “for their researches on
semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect.”
4. Other early 1950s commercial transistor types included
the surface barrier and the alloy junction. All these early commercial
transistor types were constructed from germanium.
5. Raytheon announced the CK722 in January 1953. This was the
first transistor generally available to the public. Raytheon led all
other manufacturers in volume production of transistors, and commemorated
its “Millionth Transistor” on June 23, 1954.
6. Other semiconductor manufacturers began high volume
production of germanium transistors in the mid-1950s. Major companies
included General Electric, Motorola, Philco, RCA, Sylvania, Texas
Instruments and Western Electric.
7. Texas Instruments announced the 900 series of transistors
in late 1954. These were the first silicon transistors available
8. Total 1955 production of all transistors was 3,500,000
units, and all but a few were germanium.
9. Additional germanium and silicon transistor types were
developed in the late 1950s, including the diffused base/mesa.
10. In January 1960, Fairchild announced the silicon planar
transistor technology with the 2N1613 device. This technology was
rapidly adopted by most other transistor manufacturers and has become the
standard structure for modern semiconductor devices. The planar process
was also an important technology for the commercial development of ICs,
which appeared on the market in this same timeframe.
11. In the early 1960s, Texas Instruments and Fairchild
announced the first integrated circuits. These first ICs contained
several transistors and related components on a single chip.
12. Following the lead of TI and Fairchild, other
semiconductor manufacturers soon began commercial production of
integrated circuits, including established transistor companies such as
Sylvania, Motorola, GE, RCA, and Transitron, as well as newly formed
companies such as Signetics and Siliconix.
13. The 1960s saw widespread use of the new IC technology
in military, industrial and consumer electronics; both digital and analog
IC types were produced in very large quantities.
14. The level of IC integration (the number of transistors
contained on a single integrated circuit) increased substantially in the
1960s, with hundreds transistors per chip by the late 1960s.
15. Gordon Moore (co-founder of Fairchild and Intel) authored
an article in the April 1965 issue in Electronics magazine,
predicting the continued rapid increase in the level of integration for
ICs. This has become known as “Moore’s Law” and describes the doubling
of the number of transistors per IC approximately every two years.
16. The first Intel microprocessor, the 4004, was released
in Nov 1971 and contained 2300 transistors. Other more complex
microprocessor types soon followed. For example, the 1979 Intel 8088,
used in the first IBM PC, contained 29,000 transistors.
17. The level of integration continued to expand with the
introduction of ever more powerful ICs, including microprocessors. The
first Intel Pentium microprocessor was introduced in March 1993 and
contained over 3,000,000 transistors. At this level of integration, a
single microprocessor chip contained almost as many transistors as were
produced in total in 1955 (see item #8 above).
18. In a February 13th 2003 Wall Street Journal article,
Gordon Moore summarized the status at that time of the continued increase
in the level of integration as follows:
- “The current number of transistors the
(semiconductor) industry churns out each year is 10 to the 18th
power, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, a figure sometimes expressed as one
- “Consumers typically can buy 50 million transistors
for a dollar on some memory chips. It really is a spectacular industry”.
19. Current microprocessors such as the Apple A8 used in the
iPhone 6 contain over 2 billion transistors.
20. The April 2015 IEEE Spectrum magazine featured several
articles published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of
Moore’s Law. In this issue, Dan Hutcheson’s article “Transistors, by the
Numbers”, quantifies the current state of transistor production with this
statement “In 2014, semiconductor production facilities made some
250 billion billion (250 x 1018) transistors. This was,
literally, production on an astronomical scale. Every second of that
year, on average, 8 trillion transistors were produced. That figure is
about 25 times the number of stars in the Milky Way and some
75 times the number of galaxies in the known universe.”
“HISTORY OF SEMICONDUCTOR ENGINEERING” by Bo Lojek.
Dr. Lojek’s recently
published book is a “Must-Read” for anyone interested in the history of
semiconductors. Beginning with a detailed view of the seminal Bell
Labs semiconductor research activities in the 1940s, Bo provides a
compelling account of the important events and discoveries that shaped
semiconductor progress over the ensuing three decades. In addition, this
book provides an extensive and well–researched roster of many of the key
contributors to semiconductor history.
“CRYSTAL FIRE” by Michael Riordon and
Crystal Fire is the definitive text on
the history of semiconductors, and specifically on the events, technology
and people who have been responsible for “The Invention of the Transistor
and the Birth of the Information Age”. The authors had unprecedented access
to the early transistor records at Bell Labs and provide detailed
information on the key events leading up to the discovery of the transistor
in 1947. Other key topics covered are the invention of the integrated
circuit and the beginnings of Silicon Valley.
“TI, THE TRANSISTOR AND ME” by Ed Millis
Mr. Ed Millis is uniquely
qualified to comment on the early history of the transistor at Texas
Instruments. After joining Geophysical Service, Inc., predecessor of Texas
Instruments, in 1950 as an engineer on military electronic equipment, Ed
transferred in June 1954 to the Semiconductor organization. This was
the beginning of a decade’s long and successful association between Ed and
TI semiconductors. In his new book, Ed has created a very
readable, detailed account of the technically challenging and
personally rewarding years he spent at TI.
“INSTRUMENTS OF AMPLIFICATION” by Pete
Pete Friedrichs is a modern day semiconductor Renaissance
Man. His most recent book, “Instruments Of Amplification – Fun with
Homemade Tubes, Transistors and More” provides a very enjoyable account
(with excellent “hands-on” instructions) for those who want the
satisfaction of constructing their own transistor. Yes, that’s right –
detailed instructions for building either a point contact or junction
transistor! Definitely worth a visit. See Pete’s homepage for information on his
“THE IRRESISTABLE TRANSISTOR” by Harry
Article from the March 2003
IEEE Spectrum magazine.
Harry Goldstein, the
Editorial Director of IEEE Spectrum magazine, visited Raytheon’s Norm Krim
in 2003 and learned first-hand the memorable details of the development of
the first transistor available to the general public, the CK722. This
germanium alloy junction transistor was introduced in early 1953 and had an
immediate and long-lasting impact on the careers of the young experimenters
and engineers who would later make major contributions to the semiconductor
“THE LOST HISTORY OF THE TRANSISTOR” by Michael Riordan.
Article posted April 30,
2004 at online IEEE Spectrum magazine.
In this article, Michael
Riordan, co-author of the classic and highly regarded text on semiconductor
history, Crystal Fire, recounts the history of the silicon
transistor, beginning with the dramatic announcement by Texas Instruments
at the May 1954 Radio Engineers (IRE) National Conference on Airborne
Electronics, of the availability of the first commercial silicon
transistors. Riordan’s article additionally describes the lesser-publicized
work at Bell Labs during this same timeframe that had simultaneously
resulted in the development of the first silicon transistors.
MARK PD BURGESS - TRANSISTOR HISTORY
Mark’s site, developed to
document Transistor History, is an excellent resource on this topic.
He has conducted detailed and original research on a number of important
transistor types and early companies and, importantly, this work is
presented in a very readable style. Mark’s website is a “must-visit”
for those interested in transistor history.
COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM
If you travel to the Bay
Area, you should make every effort to visit the Computer History Museum in
Mountain View, Ca – the Heart of Silicon Valley. In addition, the
website maintained by this world class museum is an unparalleled resource
for those interested in early transistor history. You can spend many
hours viewing the important historical material available on this site.
JAMES MCGONIGAL – FLICKR PHOTO ALBUM
James McGonigal has
developed an extensive Flickr photo album of early semiconductors. The
photography is superb and Jim’s commentary adds historical context for the
many devices shown. This site is definitely worth a visit.
KIRT BLATTENBERGER - RF CAFE
Kirt has created the premier website for
electrical engineers. There is a wealth of engineering related
material and hundreds of useful links. This site is a real asset to
electrical engineering technology. You’ll also find links to many
interesting historical articles and museums related to early
ANDREW WYLIE – MR. TRANSISTOR
Andrew’s website on early
transistor devices and history is without a doubt the best known and widely
visited site on this topic. Andrew (“Mr. Transistor”) continues to be
a pioneer in documenting early transistors and continues to expand his
PIES – REGENCY TR1 TRANSISTOR RADIO HISTORY
Don has created a wonderful
website with definitive information on the Regency TR-1 radio, which was
the first all-transistor radio sold commercially. This radio was a major
milestone in transistor history. Great links, photos and commentary.
STEVE REYER – WORLD’S FIRST POCKET RADIO
Another phenomenal site for
the first commercial transistor radio, the Regency TR1. Steve has
been actively documenting the TR1 for many years and his excellent work has
been recognized internationally.
MASAHIRO NAKAHORI – COLLECTION OF
Masahiro has created an
unparalleled photographic display of early transistor types, including
devices from Japan, Europe, Russia and the U.S. This is a “must-visit” site
for semiconductor collectors.
This remarkable site has
continued to expand over the past few years and has become a major resource
for those interested in early semiconductor history. A unique and very
important feature is the search for a specific transistor type/part number
for info on a broad range of historic transistors. You’ll also find
excellent research papers on this topic.
PBS TRANSISTOR HISTORY
Lots of research and links. This site is one
of the most comprehensive commercial sites on this topic, with a very broad
range of coverage and links to other sites. Much information on the
invention of the transistor.
BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL – HISTORY OF THE
Terrific site dedicated to
Bell System history, including transistors. Contains many excellent
photos of Bell Lab’s early work with transistors.
JAN DE GROOT – VINTAGE TRANSISTORS
Jan has developed a large and expanding
website that is a very worthwhile resource for those interested in early transistor
history. You’ll find many detailed photos and comprehensive coverage of
early transistor companies.
Clive (Max) Maxfield and Alvin Brown have
developed one of the “coolest” technology sites around. The sections
on early electronic calculator/computer history provide good coverage of
transistors. This is a great site!
ALAN KASTNER - RADIOWALLAH
Alan has created a terrific site, which
features fine photography and detailed technical specs of many early
transistor radios, primarily of Japanese manufacture. A unique feature is
Alan’s “See the Insides” of each radio, which provides photos of the actual
transistors used in these radios.
AND COMMENTS ON COPYRIGHT
Transistor Museum has been open for virtual visits during the past three
years but we have not actively updated the site during that time. We have
had the pleasure of many email exchanges with our visitors during this time
and have really enjoyed the discussions. With this reboot we are now
actively updating the site with new exhibits, oral histories, donations,
and some exciting new projects. I want to thank all the Transistor Museum
visitors who have taken the time to email me with positive and supportive
comments about this site. With thousands of website visits a year,
the Transistor Museum continues to provide a unique and frequently
referenced repository of historical information and personal reflections
that likely would not otherwise be available. Please email us if
you’d like to donate historic devices or documentation, or just want to discuss
early transistor history. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
about copyright: All of the material on this website is Copyright by the
Transistor Museum. If you want to reproduce this material or use the
information developed by the Transistor Museum, please provide attribution
to this site and include the following text “Copyright 2023 by Jack Ward,
by Jack Ward. All Rights Reserved.