Hugh R. Lowry


Historic Note


Mr Hugh Lowry’s 40 year career with GE spanned many of the exciting developments in semiconductor history.  He was personally involved with point contact transistors, alloy junction transistors, diffused planar diodes, tunnel diodes and SCR’s.  Hugh had direct responsibility for the classic GE Transistor Manual series, which lasted through seven editions and ten years, starting with the first edition (shown below) making its appearance in 1957.  He was the editor of the first five editions, and launched similar publications for other products, including the GE Tunnel Diode Manual and the GE SCR Manual.  Thousands of engineers first learned about transistors by reading the technical details and circuit schematics shown in their personal copy of the GE Transistor Manual – you can still find copies of these classic manuals, most likely well-used, “dog-eared” and underlined.  Hugh Lowry’s contributions as the first GE Transistor Applications Engineering Manager will be long remembered.




Oral History – Hugh Lowry

This 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.



Go To Lowry Oral History, Page 2




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