that the timing of the announcement was to avoid having to respond to
questions from their peers at the conference. The conferences continued and were renamed the Electron
Device Conference. I served as Program Chairman for the one held at Penn
State University. At RCA I had
been working on developing an alternative to the electron tube by trying to
develop an electrolitic amplifier.
On news of the transistor, I dropped that work and immediately
switched to solid state research.
First step was to reproduce the Bell Labs results. I mounted pointed wires on germanium chip using micro-manipulators to
hold and position the wires. I
believe I assembled RCA’s first transistor.
transistors used germanium as the semiconductor. Silicon, another element in the same column of the periodic
table, could be expected to have similar properties. At Herold’s suggestion, I did a
mathematical analysis and wrote a company report that showed that silicon
might be a preferred transistor material for higher temperature operation,
in part because of it wider band gap.
Silicon has turned out to be the preponderant transistor material
although a number of other materials have been utilized for their special
Early on it was recognized that there were two types
of germanium, p and n, depending on the doping impurities they
contained. Transistors made with
either type worked similarly, but circuit polarities would be
reversed. George Szilkai was an
energetic research engineer working on television circuitry at RCA Labs