by Joe A. Knight




The Westinghouse Electric Corporation began life in 1886 as an industrial power manufacturer and has produced as wide a variety of electrical goods as any company on the face of the earth.  Having been on the forefront of research and manufacturing for light-bulbs, then vacuum tubes and then radio it was only natural for them to secure an early hand-hold in the new developing world of semiconductor technology.  Thus it was in early 1953 that Westinghouse brought out their first two commercially available transistor products - the "WX-3347" point-contact type transistor and the "WX-4813" pnp junction transistor.  At this time all of their early transistor development and production took place at their Electronic Tube Division in Elmira, New York.  About 1956 they established a new engineering and manufacturing facility, called the Semiconductor Division/Department, in Youngwood, Pennsylvania . 


Later in 1953 Westinghouse developed a one-watt pnp germanium transistor, called the "WX-4816". This was the forerunner of their first commercial RETMA registered Power Transistor, a 1-watt pnp germanium type, the "2N71", released in mid-1954.  Interestingly, in late 1953 Westinghouse also had under development a 20-watt (!!) germanium power transistor, the "WX-4817".  This sounds similar to the challenge from Honeywell in their 20-watt  "2N57" Power Transistor, from the same time-frame.



ABOVE, L-to-R:  The first device is the Westinghouse PTC type "WX-3347" from 1953.  The middle item is their first RETMA germanium pnp junction type transistor, the "2N54" from 1954, in their unique round molded case. The last device is their also very distinctive round ribbed Power Transistor, the "2N71" from 1954.  One notable characteristic to all the early Westinghouse types is their unusual wire lead arrangement, unlike any other manufacturers.  The wire is also rather thin and fragile so it is not uncommon to find their early examples with missing wire leads.


Regarding the 2N71, a magazine article mentions it being in 'pilot production' in 1954.  As so few of these have survived it may be that  Westinghouse never put this device into full production.  It could be that the market forces were moving so fast they knew it would soon be obsolete as a Power Transistor or that it could not perform as advertised, since by the end of 1954 they had reregistered it with RETMA with slightly downgraded specs. 


Thus, by the end of 1954 Westinghouse had released more new junction transistors than any other company:  the 2N54, -55, -56, the 2N59, -60, -61, the 2N71, and the 2N73, -74, -75 types.   All this would seem to be an indicator of their intent to be a world player in this new field of electronics.

Go To Westinghouse Early Power Transistors, Page 2


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Joe A. Knight Early Power Transistor History – WESTINGHOUSE