– Walter MacWilliams
Why did you decide to use
transistors in the Gating Matrix?
The development was announced
throughout the labs and there was considerable interest in it. As I mentioned, it was decided that this
was so new – nobody had an idea of how broadly it could be used – so a
number of engineers, who were known to be active technically, were given
the chance to get some samples, and either use them themselves, or make
them available to some of their coworkers, and this was indeed the case
with Jean Felker. He had some and
it seemed to me to be an ideal opportunity. It was not something that was a
necessity, because I had already designed a vacuum tube circuit that would
do the job, but it seemed important to get the new device into circulation,
and find out more about it – so that’s why I did it.
You had designed the
transistor circuitry for the matrix. Was there a technical group that put
I did it myself. (Laughing). It was a 4 X 10 matrix.
There were sockets available. These leads fitted down into clips and then
the other end of the clip was a place where you could solder to make a
connection. And there was a certain
amount of selection involved. Some
of them worked fine, and others, for some reason or another, didn’t. I think the early pre-production was
scattered, and precise control of the process had not yet been achieved. But there was no problem in selecting
the number of 40. They were all
– Walter MacWilliams
Around the Labs, was there
much talk about the potential uses of the transistor? How about with
Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain?
Yes, it was clear that the
basic transistor advantages of small size, low power consumption, and rapid
response would result in the transistor having a major applicability as a
circuit element. There was a
general air of excitement about how far-reaching the effect of these
advantages would be. Work
continued on extending the understanding created by Shockley. Bardeen and
Brattain. There was also extensive
effort to characterize the transistor as a circuit element, so that it could
be made an effective tool for designers.
However, as far as I was concerned, my focus was on seizing the
opportunity to use the new device to accomplish a useful circuit function.
When did it became clear to
you and others that your transistor application was unique and the first?
There was no coordinated
effort to rush the transistor into circuit application. Pre-production samples had been made
available to a number of areas, and it just turned out that my application
was the first.
To MacWilliams Oral History, Pg 9