“THE EARLY YEARS” by Ralph Greenburg   


Curator’s Introduction:  In this article Ralph recalls his first days in the 1950s with the newly formed Motorola Semiconductor Research and Applications groups in Phoenix.  Germanium prototype transistors and handmade customer components were standard fare in transistor technology at this time, and Ralph’s following account provides a unique personal perspective.  (Note: The complete Ralph Greenburg Oral History can be found at the Transistor Museum™ homepage).        



The Early Years


In April 1954 I found myself at a career decision point. I had been employed by Philco as Tech rep for 15 months assigned to a small civil service facility in Waukegan, Ill. My job had been to design layouts for electronic training centers in the 9th Naval District, something a good draftsman could have done. Philco advised me that the next assignment would probably be aboard ship somewhere in the Pacific ocean. With a wife and two small sons this was not an acceptable position.  My wife and I had both grew up in Salt Lake City and we decided I should look for a job out west. Fortunately I found two want ads in the Chicago Tribune, one for an engineering position at a Motorola Military Research Lab in Phoenix and the other at Sandia Labs near Albuquerque.  I sent letters expressing interest in the jobs and within a week Motorola invited me foe an interview at their head quarters in Chicago. All went well and I was hired by Motorola.


I arrived at the 56th Street facility on May 24th with eager anticipation of exactly what the job would entail and what equipment Motorola was developing.  The only military equipment that I knew Motorola made for the military was the famous Walkie-Talkie. Turns out I never did exposed to military electronics since I was given the option of joining a small application team associated with a semiconductor project and I accepted. Although I had to obtain Secret clearance since the facility did Government work I still was banned from about 90% of the facility. All I knew was that the military group was working on things like the North American Aviation project.


The semiconductor research group was fairly well along by the time I came aboard, having fiddled with point contact devices they had settled on making small signal germanium transistors, the XN1, There was a pilot line that produced about 100 transistors a week. Most of which were handed over to the application group for final test, characterization, life test and environmental tests. 



Go To Greenburg “The Early Years”, Page 2


A Transistor Museum™ History of Transistors Publication

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