Oral History was provided
by Mr. Lowry in Jan, 2001.
I graduated from Morgan State
University in 1949 and started with GE the same year. There was a series of rotating
assignments to get acquainted with GE activities in Schenectady. I was then accepted into a program at
the General Engineering Laboratory, which was an adjunct to the Research
Labs, but this was focused on practical devices and contracts. I was first working on military
electronics, sonar and radar. The
first project was on a military contract to transistorize a computer used
on the B-52 airplane. There was a
vacuum tube version of this computer already built, but it was big, heavy
and consumed a lot of power.
This computer project took two
years or so, and I finally decided to use silicon transistors, in order to
meet the temperature requirements of the operating environment. Initially I had designed the computer to
use the point contact, cartridge type transistors designed at Bell Labs,
but soon discovered that the performance of these early units was
“squishy”. Every morning in the
early days I would have to take each point contact transistor I had, and
using a setup I had built to see the characteristic curves of the
transistor, determine if the unit
had shifted performance over night – most of them had. I would have to supply a little “extra
shot” of current to stabilize the transistors before usage.
To Lowry Oral History, Page 2