EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Fred L. Hunter

 

Oral History Fred Hunter

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Here are two views of the the RCA 2N32 point contact transistor which Fred Hunter discusses in his Oral History. The top drawing is from an April 1954 internal engineering report provided by Mr. Hunter, documenting the work of the team established to improve the performance of the 2N32. The lower scan is of a very early production unit from that timeframe.

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Go To Hunter Oral History, Page 3

 

 

 

Oral History Fred Hunter

(Continued)

 

Later, I was on a team with several others, including Tony Peldunas from the Development shop, to work on improving the design of the 2N32 point contact transistor. There were several problems, including the movement of the point contact whiskers for the collector and emitter terminals after the device was made this resulted in intermittent behavior. Several members of the team worked on this problem, with each change making improvements. We changed the materials used to pot the germanium pellet and the point contacts, from polyisobutlene wax and coil dope to silicone grease and glass-filled oven cured araldite. In this case we used glass spheres (10 to 30 um and 30 to 170 um) mixed with the araldite and applied to the germanium point area and cured for 24 hours at 105 degrees c. This change improved the mechanical stability of the points, but was not completely satisfactory.

I was responsible for a number of early transistors. For example, I was assigned the development work on the germanium alloy transistor which was eventually sold to industrial and military customers as the 2N331. This was developed as part of a military contract and I remember developing the report where we used 39 of the first of these units to be tested as part of the MIL_T_19500/4 qualification. We passed this and the specification was accepted on July 30, 1957. After working on many different transistor and ICs in the 60s, 70s and 80s, I retired from RCA in 1990. My last assignment was in computer aided design applications which were used to design ICs.

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