WELCOME TO THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM™

DEDICATED TO PRESERVING THE HISTORY

OF THE GREATEST INVENTION OF THE 20TH CENTURY

 

LAST UPDATED MAY 24, 2015.

 

AFTER MANY YEARS ON THE WEB,

 WE HAVE RE-ORGANIZED THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM.

 

The Transistor Museum has grown significantly over the years since we first appeared on the web in 2001.  In that timeframe we’ve added hundreds of pages of unique material specifically developed for those interested in the history of the transistor. In these past 14 years, all areas of the Museum have been expanded, including Oral Histories, Photo Gallery Pictures, Acquisitions and Donations, Photo Essay Research Articles, Construction Projects, Timeline of Transistor History, and many other areas covering topics important to transistor history.  In order to help our visitors more easily access the large and still expanding Museum site, we have re-organized this homepage.  We’d suggest that our visitors consider using any of the three techniques shown below to quickly access specific types of Museum information related to transistor history:

 

Use the New Transistor Museum Roadmap

Scroll Down This Homepage for Links to All Museum Areas

Use Google with “Transistor Museum” in the Search String

 

WE ARE CONTINIUNG TO EXPAND, SO CHECK BACK OFTEN.  IF YOU’D LIKE TO COMMENT ON THE MUSEUM SITE OR CONSIDER DONATING HISTORIC DEVICES OR DOCUMENTATION, PLEASE USE THIS CONTACT LINK.

 

 

 

 

 

NEW AND NOTEWORTHY MATERIAL ADDED TO THE MUSEUM

 

 

HISTORIC IBM GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS

IBM INITIATED A SIGNIFICANT 1950s GERMANIUM TRANSISTOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM AND MANUFACTURED LARGE NUMBERS OF THESE DEVICES FOR USE IN THE FIRST IBM

SOLID STATE COMPUTERS.  THIS RECENT PHOTO ESSAY PROVIDES

 LOTS OF PHOTOS AND TECHNICAL DETAILS.

 

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY SEMICONDUCTORS

LEARN ALL ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DIODES, TRANSISTORS AND ICs, BEGINNING WITH THE FIRST CAT WHISKER DETECTORS IN 1906.

LOTS OF PHOTOS AND TECHNICAL INFORMATON.

YOU CAN ALSO START YOUR OWN HISTORIC SEMICONDUCTOR COLLECTION WITH THIS NEW TRANSISTOR MUSEUM RESEARCH KIT. 

 

 

A TRANSISTOR MUSEUM BOOK REVIEW:

OPENING SPACE RESEARCH BY GEORGE H. LUDWIG

 LEARN ABOUT THE FIRST TRANSISTORS IN SPACE.  A NEW TRANSISTOR MUSEUM BOOK REVIEW OF GEORGE LUDWIG’S

PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF HIS TRANSISTOR DESIGNS USED

IN THE FIRST U.S. SATELLITES - VANGUARD AND EXPLORER.

 

 

HISTORIC 1950s GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS

A NEW DONATION AND PHOTO ESSAY OF A UNIQUE COLLECTION

OF HISTORIC 1950s GERMANIUM COMPUTER TRANSISTORS

FROM JONATHAN HOPPE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACQUISITIONS AND DONATIONS

OF HISTORIC SEMICONDUCTORS

 

 

Two Type 3A trannies

Western Electric Type 3A

Germanium Photo Transistor

 Donated by Dave Pansen

 

 

 

J2 and Hydroaire CQ-1.JPG

1950s Marvelco J-2 Germanium

Alloy Junction Transistor

Donated by Robert Cruz

 

 

Nakahari Transistors Photo2

Early Germanium Transistors from Japan

Vintage: Late 1950s

Donated by Masahiro Nakahori

 

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 2T76

 

Visit Masahiro’s Superb Historic Semiconductor Website 

 

 

Shockley Diode Case Styles

Shockley 4 Layer Transistor Diodes

Vintage: Late 1950s

Donated by  Ludwell Sibley

 

In 1956, 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.

  

http://www.tubecollectors.org/

 

Shockley (4 Layer Diodes) Photo Essay

 

 

Proto 555s Photo 3

Signetics NE555

Integrated Circuit Prototypes

Vintage: 1971

Donated by Hans Camenzind

 

The 555 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 History.

 

 

C2A Point Contact Transistor Photo3

Soviet Type C2A Germanium

Point Contact Transistor

Vintage: 1950s

Donated by Nikolai Pavlov

 

Commercial 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.

 

 

Hughes PCTs Updated LoRes

Hughes Experimental Germanium

Coaxial Point Contact Transistors

Vintage: 1949

Donated by Sanford Barnes

 

These 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 History.

 

TransistorMuseum Donation Photo of Motorola EP7 and Power Proto

Motorola Germanium Prototypes

Vintage: Early to Mid 1950s

Donated by Craig Carter

 

Motorola 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:

Motorola Germanium Power Prototype

 

Motorola EP-7

 

 

Delco 25 Million Power Transistor

Delco Germanium Power Transistor

Vintage: 1963

Donated by Ray Brack

 

Beginning 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.

 

 

gt 66 photo transistor

General Transistor Company  GT66, 2N318

Germanium Photo Transistor

Vintage: 1956

Donated by Dennis Uhlich

 

General 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 these links:

 

Art Rossoff Oral History

 

PhotoGallery Link to RR66 Phototransistor

 

Historic 1951 Raytheon CK716

Point Contact Transistor

Donated by Bob Varga

 

 

TA-153 in Prototype Envelope

 

Germanium PNP Alloy Junction, serial# A-5043

RCA TA-153 Developmental Transistor

 

 

Larson Early Pct Devices 2

 

Point Contact Transistors

Left: Westinghouse WX3347

Middle: CBS PT-2A

Right: RCA TA-165

 

 

Larson Early Junction Devices

 

Early Germanium Transistors

Left: Western Electric 1858 NPN Grown Junction

Middle: Raytheon CK722 PNP Alloy Junction

  Right: GE Type ZJ3-1

Historic Prototype and Early Production Germanium Transistors

Vintage: 1952/1953

Donated by Dave Larson

Transistor 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

 

 

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.

LEARN ABOUT THE VANGUARD I SATELLITE AND THE EXCITING

 1958 TRANSISTOR TECHNOLOGY THAT POWERED

THE RADIO TRANSMITTERS IN THIS HISTORIC SATELLITE.

WESTERN ELECTRIC GA-53233 AND GF-45011

1950s VANGUARD TRANSISTORS

 

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 “TRANSISTOR-POWERED” TRANSMITTER.

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.

"RAYTHEON 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.

A 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

TO THE INITIAL METAL CATRIDGE “TYPE A”.

BELL LABS “TYPE M1752” GERMANIUM GROWN JUNCTION TRANSISTOR

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

TRIBUTE COMMENTARY FOR TWO MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS

TO THE HISTORY OF SEMICONDUCTORS

 

 

IN TRIBUTE TO MR. HANS CAMENZIND,

 WHO PASSED AWAY ON AUGUST 15, 2012.

HANS CAMENZIND MEMORIAL COMMENTARY

 

HERE IS THE ORIGINAL 2004 TRANSISTOR MUSEUM ORAL HISTORY

HANS CAMENZIND - THE INVENTOR OF THE LEGENDARY 555 TIMER IC

 

AUDIO CLIPS OF THE 2004 TRANSISTOR MUSEUM INTERVIEW

HANS CAMENZIND AUDIO CLIPS FROM 2004 INTERVIEW

 

 

IN TRIBUTE TO MR. NORMAN KRIM, WHO RECENTLY

 PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF 98.

NORMAN KRIM - THE FATHER OF THE CK722 TRANSISTOR

 

AUDIO CLIPS OF THE 2000 TRANSISTOR MUSEUM INTERVIEW

NORMAN KRIM AUDIO CLIPS FROM 2000 INTERVIEW

  

HERE IS A NEW CK722 ADVENTURE OF CARL AND JERRY.

RE-IMAGINED FROM 1953.

CARL AND JERRY WITH THEIR FIRST CK722

 

 HERE IS THE MARCH 2003 IEEE SPECTRUM ARTICLE BY HARRY GOLDSTEIN ABOUT NORMAN KRIM

AND HIS PIONEERING WORK AT RAYTHEON.

 IEEE SPECTRUM - THE IRRESISTABLE TRANSISTOR

 

 

 

 

 

ORAL HISTORIES

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.

 

 BERNARD REICH

CHIEF OF 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.

 

BILL GUTZWILLER

THE 1950s DEVELOPMENT OF THE SILICON CONTROLLED RECTIFIER (SCR) AND THE TRIAC AT GE

 

During a 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.

 

DAVID BAKALAR

FOUNDING 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.

 BOB SLADE

RCA’S FIRST TRANSISTOR ENGINEER AND STARTING UP PRODUCTION OF POINT CONTACT TRANSISTORS

 

Bernard (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 transistor development.

 

LEN BUCKWALTER

AUTHOR OF CLASSIC AND WELL REMEMBERED 1960s AND 1970s

TRANSISTOR 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 reaffirmed. 

 

RICHARD S. BURWEN

  PIONEER IN EARLY TRANSISTOR HI-FI AND AUDIO CIRCUIT DESIGN

 

For over 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 package.

 

RALPH GREENBURG

EARLY 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 devices.

DR. GEORGE LUDWIG

THE FIRST 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.

 

WILF CORRIGAN

MOTOROLA’S PIONEERING 1960s SILICON TRANSISTOR PROGRAM

 

Wilf 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.

 

 

JACK HAENICHEN

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE 2N2222

 

Since its 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

 

Walter H. 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

 

Carl David 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.    

 

HOMER COONCE

DEVELOPING TRANSISTOR DIGITAL CIRCUITS FOR THE ”FLYABLE TRADIC” COMPUTER AND NIKE ZEUS MISSILES

 

Homer 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.

 

HANNON YOURKE

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.

 

JERRY HERZOG

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

 

Dr. Hung 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 integrated circuits”.

 

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 developments. 

 

HANS CAMENZIND

STARTING AT RCA IN 1950 AND INVENTING THE QUASI COMPLEMENTARY TRANSISTOR AMP

 

The type 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. 

 

 

 

 

JERRY SURAN

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 applications.

 

ART UHLIR JR.

INVENTING THE VARACTOR DIODE AT BELL LABS AND PIONEERING WORK WITH POROUS SILICON

 

Art Uhlir 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.

 

DWIGHT JONES

DEVELOPING EARLY TRANSISTOR AUDIO CIRCUITS AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE GE TRANSISTOR MANUALS

 

Dwight V. 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. 

 

SANFORD BARNES

STARTING AT 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.

  

GENE WECKLER

WORKING AT SHOCKLEY TRANSISTOR CORPORATION IN 1958 AND DEVELOPING APPLICATIONS FOR SHOCKLEY TRANSISTOR DIODES

 

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 Valley.

 

NEVILLE FLETCHER

DEVELOPING THE FIRST 1950s GERMANIUM POWER TRANSISTORS

 

Neville 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 transistors.

 

ADOLPH BLICHER

JOINING RCA IN 1955 AND DEVELOPING THE CLASSIC 2N301 AND

2N404 GERMANIUM TRANSISTORS

 

Joining Radio 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 characteristics.

 

BOB MENDELSON

WORKING AT RCA ON EARLY TRANSISTORSR, ICs AND THE HISTORIC NUVISTOR TUBES

 

Bob 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. 

MAC MACBRIDE

BUILDING THE FIRST TI TRANSISTORS WITH HAND-ASSEMBLY AND WATCHMAKERS TOOLS

 

D. D. “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

WORKING AT TEXAS INSTRUMENTS IN THE EARLY 1960s ON EARLY ICs USED IN THE MINUTEMAN MISSILE SYSTEM

 

Mary Anne 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.

 

 

 

 

HISTORIC TRANSISTOR COMPANIES

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 companies.

 

USE THESE LINKS TO FIND DOZENS OF ADDITIONAL ORAL HISTORIES FROM PIONEERS IN TRANSISTOR DEVELOPMENT.

 

GENERAL ELECTRIC

RCA

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

 

COMING SOON

Fairchild

National Union

Radio Receptor

Raytheon

Shockley Transistor

Western Electric

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSISTOR MUSEUM PHOTO GALLERY

PHOTOGALLERY

 

The 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.   

 

OVER 60 HISTORIC DEVICES SHOWN. CHECK BACK OFTEN AS WE ARE PLANNING A MAJOR UPDATE TO THIS EXHIBIT.

 

BELOW ARE LINKS OF SOME RECENT ADDITIONS TO THE GALLERY.

.

LINK TO TI 2N335

When 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.

 

2N27           2N29           2N110

Learn 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. 

 

LINK TO MOTOROLA 2N705

Although 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.

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSISTOR MUSEUM STORE

MUSEUMSTORE

 

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 history.

 

 

LISTED BELOW ARE EXAMPLES OF HISTORIC DEVICES

AVAILABLE AT THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM STORE.

 

 

Historic Western Electric 2N110 

Point Contact Transistor

Vintage 1950s – 1960s

Experiment with the

First Transistor Technology.

 

 

GE 2N43 2N44 2N45 Germanium

PNP Alloy Junction Transistor

General Electric Classic “Top- Hat” Styles from the 1950s & 1960s.

 

 

Fairchild uLogic® 923

RTL Integrated Circuit

J-K Flip-Flop

One of the First ICs Available.  Used Extensively in Digital Logic.

 

 Raytheon CK718

Hearing Aid Transistor

From the Early 1950s.  The First Transistor in Volume Production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORIC TRANSISTOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

 

 

USING THE 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.

POINT CONTACT 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. 

A CLASSIC 1956 PAUL PENFIELD JR. GERMANIUM TRANSISTOR AMPLIFIER IS RECONCONSTRUCTED BY THE TRANSISTOR MUSEUM

 

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 A

SPECTACULAR FLASHING LIGHT MULTVIBRATOR.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEARNING ABOUT TRANSISTORS

  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 Brattain.

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 commercially.

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 quintillion.”

     - “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.”

 

 

RECOMMENDED BOOKS AND ARTICLES

 

“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 Lillian Hoddeson.

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 Friedrichs.

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 other work.

 

“THE IRRESISTABLE TRANSISTOR”  by Harry Goldstein.

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 industry.

 

“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.

 

INFORMATIVE SITES

 

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.

 

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 semiconductors.

 

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 website.

 

DON 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 SEMICONDUCTORS 

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.

 

RADIOMUSEUM.ORG

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 TRANSISTOR

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.

 

DIY CALCULATOR

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CURATOR’S UPDATE AND CONTACTING THE MUSEUM

 

With this May 2015 update and re-organization of the Museum homepage, we have reviewed and confirmed all links.  Some of the material here was first developed and placed on the web in 2001, and that’s ancient history given the changes with internet technology over the past decade.  If you find a link that no longer works, and have a resulting comment or question regarding a specific transistor history topic, just let us know and we’ll do our best to respond.  Also, we haven’t been able to keep up with all the emails from museum visitors -   please accept our apologies and know that the museum continues to grow and we have plans for a greatly expanded site in the future.

 

Please email your comments directly to Jack Ward, the Museum Curator, at: transistormuseum@aol.com

 

Finally, 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 over 100,000 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.

 

A word 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 2001-2015 by Jack Ward, Transistormuseum.com”

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2001-2015 by Jack Ward.  All Rights Reserved.

http://www.transistormuseum.com