EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Robert E. Kleppinger

 

Biograhic Note

 

Mr. Robert E. Kleppinger received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1951 and an MS degree in 1955 from Stevens Institute.  He was a design and development engineer at the RCA Semiconductor Advanced Development Group at the Harrison plant.  His first assignment was to transfer the newly invented alloy junction transistors from the Labs at Princteton to the Tube Division at Harrison and set up large scale production – these were the first junction transistors manufactured by RCA.  From these very technologically challenging beginnings, Rob continued to be associated with semiconductor development and production at RCA for forty years, retiring in 1991.  He held a variety of positions, including Engineering Leader, Senior Engineer, and Principal Member of Technical Staff, and worked on a wide variety of solid state technologies and projects.  He has published several papers in the RCA Engineer, has received Plant and Divisional Technical Excellence Awards, has presented numerous papers at Industry Meetings, has copyrights on three computer programs, and was granted a patent related to semiconductor research.   

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Oral History – Rob Kleppinger

 

This Oral History was provided by

Mr. Kleppinger in Feb, 2001.

 

I started at RCA in July, 1951, and for the first six months I attended a specialized training program.  After the training, in Jan 1952, I started at the Harrison facility in the Advanced Development Group working on semiconductors.  At that time, Charles Mueller and Jack Pankove were working at the RCA Labs in Princeton on the first RCA junction transistors – these were identified as type TA153.  I started right away with these junction units.  At that time there were only three of us at Harrison working on transistors – myself, Fred Hunter and Bob Slade, who was the manager of this Advanced Development Group.  We were all engineers and we also had a part time technician named Margaret Deavy (she also worked for the vacuum tube engineers who were at Harrison). 

 

I remember that one of our first breakthroughs on the alloy junction transistors was the discovery that we weren’t using a high enough temperature for the indium to react effectively with the germanium and provide good quality junctions on a consistent basis.  Once we corrected this, our meager yield on these early transistors really improved.  At the beginning, we didn’t even have a furnace to melt the indium – I was using an RF germanium crystal growing furnace instead.   We used a hot hydrogen gas to provide the heat to hand-solder the leads to the indium areas after melting. 

 

Go To Kleppinger Oral History, Page 2

 

 

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