An Interview with F.W. “Bill” Gutzwiller

 The Early History of the Silicon Controlled Rectifier


Oral History – Bill Gutzwiller (Continued)


In a few days, his laboratory people had constructed a device using this fabrication.  I took it back into my applications laboratory, hooked it up with a capacitor and a potentiometer, and IT WORKED!  Three components (later a fourth component, a trigger diac was added) controlled both halves of the A-C cycle from full-off to full-on.  I promptly christened my new device the “Triac” (tri for three leads, and ac for alternating current).  To this day 35 to 40 years later, every lamp dimmer in the world uses Triacs, to the best of my knowledge.  I, the guy who knew nothing of semiconductor physics, had finally invented a new and useful semiconductor device all by myself.  For this and my earlier work in semiconductors I was awarded the prestigious GE Cordiner Award “for outstanding contributions” to the Company.







For additional material relating to Bill Gutzwiller’s work with the SCR and the Triac, including patents and audio clips, use this link:


Go To Gutzwiller Oral History, Page 12










Oral History – Bill Gutzwiller (Continued)


Partial List of Representative Publications  Authored

 by F. W. Gutzwiller.


[1] “Semiconductor Power Rectifiers in Continuous-Duty Circuits”, Electrical Manufacturing, July 1956. 


[2] “Rating and Application of Germanium and Silicon Rectifiers”, Electrical Engineering, Dec. 1956.


[3] “Solid-State Thyratron Switches Kilowatts”, Electronics, March 28, 1958. 


[4] “An Up-to-Date Look at Power Semiconductor Load Current Ratings”, Semiconductor products, Dec. 1961.  


[5] “Universal Motor Speed Controls”, Electro-Technology, Dec. 1961.


[6] “More Reliability with Controlled Avalanche Rectifiers”, Electronics, March, 1963.


[7] “Thyristor Semiconductor Components Today”, IEEE Transactions on Industry and general Applications, Nov. 1965.


[8] “Thyristors and Rectifier Diodes – the Semiconductor Workhorses”, IEEE Spectrum, Aug.1967.


[9] Editor/Author of “GE SCR Manual”, Editions 1 to 4, 1960 – 1965.


[10] “Semiconductor Controlled Rectifiers”, Prentice-Hall, 1964.  Co-authored by Gentry, Gutzwiller, Holonyak, Von Zastrow. 



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