EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Norman H. Ditrick

 

Oral History – Norm Ditrick (Continued)

 

RCA did relatively well with integrated circuits.  We made quite a few and had a ready market.   Because I was in development, not manufacturing, I moved on about this time to other development projects, such as high frequency bipolar devices – the initial work was for the military and then later for TV when all-solid-state TVs were developed.  Some of these circuits we developed would perform up to 1.4 GHZ, and ultimately were used as pre-scalers in the electronic tuners on all RCA TVs.  This was so successful that we had set up two assembly lines, with the primary line at the Findlay plant and a backup line at the Somerville plant. This backup was necessary to support large scale TV production – we couldn’t afford to interrupt the high volume production and so established the backup line.

 

The next project I was assigned to involved the use of Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) as comb filters for TVs.  The comb filter was a special device that could be used to eliminate interference (such as “herring bone patterns”) on a TV set.  This project was a great success technically and the process was transferred to the production plant located in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I made a number of trips down there to assist in setting up production. In the end, unfortunately, RCA decided to buy these parts from another source and we never got into production.  

 

 

 

 

      

 

 

Oral History – Norm Ditrick (Continued)

 

My next project was developing “rad-hardened” integrated circuits.  These were made using Silicon on Sapphire technology, which used a thin film of silicon grown on a sapphire substrate.  We did complementary MOS, and the object of this program was to make devices that were radiation hard.  The primary technique in this process was to etch away the silicon substrate between the devices, which would provide electrical isolation.  This would eliminate any effect of radiation traveling through the substrate to adjoining devices.  We also developed quite a few other techniques that would contribute to radiation hardening.  These were never sold commercially, and went directly to the military.  In fact, this was a classified project, so we could not have sold these commercially in any case.  I think that much of the semiconductor development work that was done at RCA in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was quite pioneering and we were frequently ahead of the competition technically – unfortunately, we couldn’t seem to take advantage commercially of these developments.  In the end, RCA was bought out be General Electric.  There was quite a bit of overlap at that point with the GE development groups and the RCA facility was closed – we were all laid off.  Technically, I was retired because I was over 55. 

 

Here are a few more comments about the early work with transistors.  I think I have mentioned the names of some of the engineers that I first worked with : 

 

Go To Ditrick Oral History, Page 6

 

COPYRIGHT © 2001 by Jack Ward.  All Rights Reserved.  http://www.transistormuseum.com/

PAGE 5