EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

H. C. Lin

Oral History – H. C. Lin

(Continued)

Oral History – H. C. Lin

(Continued)

 

Where did you work after RCA?

There was a company, Hytron, that wanted me to join them.  At the same time, CBS, the broadcasting company, had wanted to get into manufacturing, so they bought Hytron to make TV tubes.  After that, they wanted to get into the semiconductor business. I was hired by CBS/Hytron to be in charge of their applications group.  They made power transistors and diodes for several years, but the company wasn’t successful in the manufacturing business.  This was in Massachusetts, so I lived in Lowell Massachusetts for about three years.  My job was to work with their transistor customers, to help solve their application problems, and also to write data sheets and applications notes.   As I mentioned, the biggest business for CBS/Hytron semiconductors was power transistors.  This was when transistors were first used in car radios, with power transistors for the audio output stage.  These transistors were manufactured in Lowell.  

 

After CBS/Hytron, I believe you started working at Westinghouse on Integrated Circuits.  Please summarize this work?

Next, I went to Westinghouse for 10 years, which I think were my best years in industry.  This was because Westinghouse and TI were the first to believe in integrated circuits.  I joined Westinghouse in 1959, and at that time, to work on an integrated circuit was a “laughing stock” in most of the industry because of concerns about the poor reliability and low yields that would happen if you put 100s or 1000s (never mind today’s millions) of transistors on an integrated circuit.  It was thought not to be feasible. 

 

 

    

I was hired by Westinghouse in Pittsburgh to work on this project, but they wouldn’t tell me what the project was.  I was hired by George Sziklai (whom I knew from RCA).  He was a very bright and prolific man – almost an invention every day.  When he decided to join Westinghouse, he recommended that they hire me to work on the Integrated Circuits, although he couldn’t tell me much about this.  At the time, Westinghouse was very successful with silicon power transistors, in a partnership with Siemens in Germany.

 

My entire assignment at Westinghouse was with integrated circuits, also called molecular electronics.  As I mentioned, only TI and Westinghouse were involved with this technology and were the only bidders on the Air Force contract for the Minuteman missile, built by North American Aviation.  My work was on this contract.  The major part of the work went to TI and some other part went to Westinghouse.  This was around 1960.

 

One aspect of the contract involved developing an integrated circuit op amp.  They built the circuit first, before we developed the integrated circuit, and it used a complementary output. This was because you had to use the complementary circuit if you didn’t want to use a transformer.  TI suggested they could build both NPN and PNP on the same monolithic substrate.  As it turns out, TI used a 4-layer structure, a PNPN.  This was similar to Shockley’s 4-layer diode.   But once there was radiation, it would trigger (turn on) and so the TI structure just couldn’t pass the Air Force testing because the Minuteman was for space applications, where there was radiation.

Go To Lin Oral History, Page 5

 

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