An Interview with F.W. “Bill” Gutzwiller

 The Early History of the Silicon Controlled Rectifier 

Biographic Note


Frank W. “Bill” Gutzwiller joined General Electric in 1955 with an initial engineering assignment in power semiconductors at the Clyde NY operation.   This was just at the time when GE was greatly expanding its presence in semiconductor research, development and large scale production.  During a 30+ year career at GE, Bill made substantial contributions to the field of power semiconductor applications and devices, specifically the silicon controlled rectifier (SCR) and the Triac.  He held numerous technical and management positions at GE, authored multiple papers and books, received over 20 U.S. patents and was awarded the prestigious GE Cordiner and Steinmetz Awards for outstanding contributions to the company.  A summary of Bill’s contributions:


·        Developed the first SCR and Triac applications.


·        Author of over 20 technical papers related to power semiconductors.


·        Granted over 20 U.S. patents.  


·        Co-author of highly regarded 1960s text on SCR principles and applications.


·        Editor and contributor to the widely read GE manuals on SCRs and transistors.


Link to Publications and Patents


Following his retirement from GE in the mid 1980s, Bill was an electronics consultant for major U.S. companies.  More recently he has been recognized as an award winning artist. You can see Bill’s paintings at:



Oral History – Bill Gutzwiller


This Oral History has been developed in 2005 from material supplied by Bill Gutzwiller.  Many of the comments are excerpts from Bill’s recent autobiography,   “Journey to Windward”, which is Copyright © 2003 by Bill Gutzwiller.


You mentioned that after your degree from Marquette University, you were working in control applications for companies in the Midwest.   How did you first become involved with General Electric and power semiconductors?

In 1954 I was working in industrial control applications in the Milwaukee area.  My old college and Navy buddy, Harvey Hodsdon, visited one evening when we invited him for dinner in our upstairs apartment.  Harvey had finished his two years on GE’s test program and had gone into field sales for GE’s newly organized semiconductor business headquartered in Syracuse NY.  Harvey was located in their Chicago office, and Milwaukee was in the territory he served.  As we ate dinner, Harvey described the products he was selling.  They were the first generation of transistors and 1/2 ampere germanium rectifiers.  This was just a few short years after the invention of the transistor at Bell Laboratories opened up the solid-state era. 


 Go To Gutzwiller Oral History, Page 2



Gutzwiller Historic Audio Recordings


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