An Interview with Carl David Todd

 Recollections from the First Days of Transistor Technology


Biographic Note


Carl David Todd has been involved with transistor engineering since the earliest days of this technology, with a career that spans over 50 years.  Carl’s first exposure to transistors was in 1949 when, as a high school student in Jackson Tennessee, he built a working point contact transistor after reading about this new technology in the Bell System Technical Journal.  Continuing to expand his “hands-on” knowledge of transistors, he contacted Western Electric directly and purchased six WE1698 point contact devices. He bought his first CK722 hobbyist transistor in 1953 and won a $100 prize the following year for a project submitted to Raytheon’s legendary Transistor Applications Contest.  During the intervening half century, Carl has been active in the field of professional transistor engineering, with a long list of impressive achievements, including:


·        Author of three highly regarded electronics texts.


·        Author of 950 technical articles in scientific journals as well as in technical and hobbyist magazines.


·        Accomplished transistor engineer at General Electric during the 1950s.


·        Engineering Manager at Hughes Electronics Products Division.


·        A forty year career as a consulting Professional Engineer.


His following commentary on the history of transistors is unmatched for clarity and technical scope and provides a unique view into the early days of transistor history.


Oral History – Carl David Todd


Carl’s vivid and detailed recollections of his work as a student and young engineer in the 1950s, and his insightful account of the early transistor program at General Electric will be the primary topic of this Oral History (taken in April through June, 2005).


Before we discuss your professional work with early transistor technology at General Electric, I’d be interested in learning the details of your first exposure to transistors.  I understand this was while you were still in high school?

One of my favorite sources of information was the Bell Systems Technical Journal, which told of work being done at Bell Laboratories.  Early in 1949, I read the article by Brattain, Bardeen, and Shockley on the work they were doing with a device called a transistor.  There were a lot of details left out of the article, or maybe they were so far over my head that I could not see them, but I began to think about what they did and how I might duplicate it in my little lab with very meager equipment - I was still a high school kid!


I remember writing a report on the transistor for my English case.  The teacher chastised me for only having the single reference from BSTJ, but that was all there was.  I still received an A grade. 

 Go To Todd Oral History, Page 2


Todd Historic Audio Recordings


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