EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Robert E. Kleppinger

 

Oral History – Rob Kleppinger (Continued)

 

The first cases were made from Araldite resin, which we colored with titanium oxide to make it white.  The earlier point contact units were amber colored initially (just Araldite).  We used a green color to indicate NPN transistors, which we got into fairly soon.  I also seem to remember that we used the little gel capsules for “pills” as the forms to make the castings for the early TA153’s. 

 

We must have made quite a few of the alloy junction transistors.  After a while, we started making them at the model shop run by Art Chettle.  I remember taking a briefcase full of our production down to Jack Pankove and Charlie Mueller for them to test.  I’d do this every week, and I must have had several hundred transistors each trip.  These early “TA” units were pre-production and were destined for our RCA Applications engineers.  Sometimes, we would send out a few to our customers for evaluation.  Eventually we got RTMA registration numbers for these alloy transistors, with the 2N35 being the NPN and the 2N34 being the PNP.  The TA153 was the “grandfather” of all our junction transistors.  Our standards group kept a listing of all the various “TA” numbers. 

 

I also made some junction diodes during this timeframe, mostly to help understand and improve our processes for transistors.  These got “TA” numbers too.   We thought it was a great success when I got one to operate at 400 volts.  There was a group of Application Engineers that had the job of  trying to build circuits with these transistors. 

      

 

 

Oral History – Rob Kleppinger (Continued)

 

Later on, in the late 50’s, there was a lot of circuit design for audio usage.   We all built HiFi circuits with the RCA transistors.  So, from 1952 to 1956, I was an engineer with the Advanced Development Group, working on small signal transistors.  After we completed the work on transferring the TA153 from the labs to Harrison, I worked on a variety of other transistors and diodes, such as the TA191, TA132, TA203, SX150.  

 

The Semiconductor Division was formed in December, 1955.   At that point, we broke off from the Tube Division at Harrison, and    RCA built a new semiconductor plant at Somerville, NJ. I worked at this facility up until 1980, with a variety of postions and assignments, including Engineering Leader, Senior Engineer, and Senior Member of the Technical Staff. 

 

At Somerville, we set up a production facility as well as a semiconductor model shop.  We were very busy and at some point in the late 1950s, we were running three shifts a day.  RCA then expanded the semiconductor facilities by setting up a new manufacturing plant in Findlay, Ohio.  This must have been in the 1960s.  I spent quite a bit of time going out there to assist in establishing the manufacturing lines.    RCA continued to expand and opened up another plant in Mountain Top, Pa.  Although I  wasn’t much involved with the  opening of this plant, I did spend a fair amount of time there from 1970 to 1975, introducing new RF type transistors (CATV, UHF, VHF and low noise)  into production.

Go To Kleppinger Oral History, Page 3

 

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