An Interview with Walter MacWilliams

 Developing the First “Working” Transistor Application



Walter H. MacWilliams (right) and Robert C. Winans examine the historic Transistor Gating Matrix. [2]



This photo appeared in the March 1957 issue of Bell Labs Record, in the article, “A Transistor Gating Matrix for a Simulated Warfare Computer”, by W.H. MacWilliams, Jr.  Walter is shown to the right, using a pencil to indicate one of the 40 Type A point contact transistors used in the transistor matrix that has been described in this Oral History. The introductory paragraph to Walter’s article provides an excellent overview of this historic project: “The transistor’s two most important capabilities – switching and the amplification of signals – were put to use almost immediately after its invention at Bell Laboratories. A circuit using the early point-contact transistors was incorporated into laboratory equipment designed for the military.  This circuit is believed to be the first to use transistors to perform a practical function in operating laboratory equipment, and it made an important contribution in answering the question – how lethal are anti-aircraft guns in fending off an enemy attack?”




Go To MacWilliams Oral History, Pg 7


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