EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT GE

 Dr. John Saby

 

Oral History – John Saby

 (Continued)

 

“Naturally”, since semiconductor crystals must be sawed, this part of HMED product development became the initial home of point contact diodes, and ultimately pct transistors.  The Electronics Lab (E-Lab) support was limited to very low level, purely engineering for pct transistors only.  In about 1949 or 1950 an Electronics Lab section was organized under the direction of Paul Jordan.  [EE with 5 – 10 years GE contributions]. I joined the E.D. section of the E-Lab under Jordan in Feb 1951. In place was a significant effort developing “alloy” junction rectifiers per the GE Research Labs process, invented and patented by R.N. Hall and Crawford Dunlap.  When I came from the Cornell Physics Department, Jordan asked me investigate possible “control devices” using this process.  (GE didn’t originally use the term “transistor” because of possible patent complications with Bell Labs).   Also, we called the process “alloy-diffusion” because of the general opinion at GE that slight diffusion of indium into the N-type germanium, moving the actual junction with the highest electric field into undisturbed crystal, away from the possibly disturbed re-crystalized P-type layer.  This was “pooh-poohed” by most, because the diffusion constant of indium into germanium was thought to be too small to permit significant diffusion during the short time of the process.  I later proved (published in Physical Review) that the “ridiculously small” amount of diffusion is more than adequate.  However, “alloy”, rather than “alloy-diffusion” is the universally used term. 

 

 

 

 

 

Oral History – John Saby

 (Continued) 

 

When I joined in 1951, Paul Jordan, Addison Sheckler and Vernon Ozarow were already on the staff there.  Jordan and Sheckler had previously developed a “fractional crystallization” purification process for germanium, causing mystification about GE’s ability to buy and use raw germanium in production quantities, previously rejected by competitors.  This process was developed independently from Bill Pfann’s “zone purification”, and it was capable of comparable purity.

 

 

This photo illustrates the packaging used by GE in the early 1950s for the commercially successful germanium rectifier products, which were manufactured using the  “alloy-diffusion” process developed by R.N. Hall and Crawford Dunlap at the GE Research Labs. John Saby extended this basic technology to create a “control device” in 1951, which later become known as the alloy junction transistor.

 

Go To Saby Oral History, Page 3

 

 

 

 

 

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