EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT GE

Hugh R. Lowry

Oral History – Hugh Lowry

(Continued)

 

Also during the time from 1952 to 1955, I took the exam and qualified for the Advanced Engineering Program – we had a few hours of class work and 20 hours of homework to do every week (included advanced mathematics, heat transfer, and other topics not normally taught to an electrical engineer).  It was considered an honor to be accepted into this program – Brainard Fancher, who was the general manager of the Semiconductor Products Department was also a graduate of the program.  Anyway, after this program, in the late spring of 1955, Jim Sweeney was the manager of marketing up at “Semiconductor” and he was looking to setup an applications engineering group.  So I went to interview and took his job offer and we moved to Syracuse in the summer of 1955.

 

Sweeney suggested to me that it would be a good idea to come up with a manual for transistors similar to the RCA Tube Manual, which he was used to.  So I wrote the first GE Transistor Manual (must have been in 1956 or 1957) , and, if you notice, there are quite a few diagrams and artwork – this was done by the Advertising Dept under Sweeney.  The Manual was a real success, and so every year or so we would update the manual with a new edition.  Various engineers would design and test the circuits we used in these manuals – Erich Gottlieb worked on the radio circuits, Peter Sylvan did the unijunction transistors and Dwight Jones and I did the audio projects.   We always tried these circuits with multiple transistors to make sure they would work ok.  The first manual was introduced at an Electronics Convention in New York, and Sweeney was selling them for 50 cents each.  

 

Oral History – Hugh Lowry

(Continued)

 

The fifth edition came out in 1960 and it has my name listed as the Manager of Applications on the first page, along with all the other applications engineers.   The seventh edition was the last and largest – it was edited by J.F. Clearly, as I had moved over to manage engineering for the new signal diode project.

 

GE established a diode project, to develop a diffused planar diode that would perform better than the point contact diode – we were first in the industry with this type of product.  We also designed it to be temperature resistant and this was needed for programs like the Minuteman missile.  The diode was very successful and we continued to be the applications/manufacturing  group for any new, experimental products developed at the Research Labs by folks like Nick  Holonyak, such as tunnel diodes, high frequency oscillator transistors, light emitting diodes, and SCR’s.  I remember one conference, early on, where several papers had been given on the promising Tunnel Diode technology and about how these devices weren’t yet available commercially.  Well, I was able to announce immediate delivery from GE and this caused quite a sensation at the conference.  In 1961, we came out with the first and only edition of the GE Tunnel Diode manual.  Although tunnel diodes were easy to make and seemed to have excellent performance (negative resistance, high frequency switching) they never really caught on.  We never produced a 2nd edition of the manual.

 

Go To Lowry Oral History, Page 3

 

 

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