David Bakalar

Transistor Museum Historic Profile

Recognizing Significant Contributions to 20th Century Semiconductor History and Technology

Notable Contributions




·         1947 B.S. Physics, Harvard College

·         1948 M.S. Physics, Harvard Graduate School

·         1951 Sc. D. Physical Metallurgy, M.I.T.


Semiconductor Work History

·         1951 Consultant for the Marshall Plan

·         1951-52 Transistor Development, Bell Telephone Laboratories

·         1952-84 President, Transitron Electronic Corporation




I was a scholarship student at Harvard majoring in physics. This was broken up by two years in the navy including a year as part of the occupation of Japan. I returned to get a masters at Harvard and then a doctorate at MIT in physical metallurgy.


Upon graduation from MIT, I took a temporary job for the Marshal Plan helping European managers learn about the latest metallurgical techniques. I heard that Bell Labs had developed a transistor. I thought this was very exciting and went to work for them working on 

semiconductor materials. This included working at Western Electric's plant in Allentown, where transistors were to be manufactured. 


I thought the name Transitron nicely combined “transistor” with “tron” used for vacuum tubes. But there was no market for transistors and we needed to get revenue. There was a market for point contact germanium diodes, but I learned that there were problems with their stability. 

Gold bonded diodes that were not very good had been made experimentally. I felt, if they could be developed, they would solve the stability problem. And that's how we made our first success. We then went on to develop the world's first silicon rectifiers which were smaller and generated less heat than their tube equivalents.


We decided not to make germanium transistors and instead concentrated on grown junction silicon NPN transistors.  The business for these was hurt when Fairchild came out with their planar technology.  Looking back, I’d like to add that we saw a mere dim glimmer of the market that exists today. 

More Notable Contributions, Page 3

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