EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT RCA

Bernard N. Slade

Oral History – Bob Slade

(Continued)

Oral History – Bob Slade

(Continued)

 

Your first assignment at RCA was with transistors?

 

The date was about June or July of 1948, my first job after college, and I was offered a job by RCA and I went into the Advanced Development Group, developing new forms of vacuum tubes.  And the date I arrived, I can’t be precise about what the day was, but it was the day that Bell Laboratories got the industry together, invited many companies, particularly electronics companies, such as RCA, and announced the development of the transistor. They projected that that this was going to take the place of the vacuum tube, and eventually revolutionize the world, and of course it did. When that happened I went to my manager and said, “I guess I’m out of a job, because the vacuum tube is dead”, and he said “No, the vacuum tube isn’t dead, and you are out of a job, but we’ll give you another one – you’ll be the first engineer on the transistor in RCA”.  There was research work going on in the semiconductor field in Princeton.  With Jerry Kurshan and headed up by Ed Herold, Charlie Mueller, and Bill Webster.  I was the first one (engineer), and not only did I know nothing about semiconductors, I knew nothing about anything at that point – I was just right out of college.  So that was the beginning of my career.

 

When and where did transistor development begin at RCA?

 

Transistor development at RCA began in July, 1948 at the Harrison, N. J. Tube Division immediately after Bell Laboratories announced the invention of the transistor, when I was assigned as the first engineer to begin the RCA effort in this technology. 

 

However, at the same time, the Princeton research laboratories set up a research activity which eventually became a significant contributor to the industry. I worked closely with this activity and eventually became a part of it.    

 

Do you remember some of the other key individuals involved?

 

 Although there were many engineers and scientists who made important contributions to RCA’s transistor program, some of the more important participants that I worked with were:

 

Edward W. Herold: Head of the Princeton Research transistor group.

William Webster:  Succeeded me as head of Semiconductor Advanced Development at Harrison, N. J. Tube Division; he later became Vice-President, Research at Princeton.

Charles Mueller: Princeton Laboratories,  important contributor to RCA’s alloy junction development.

Jack Pankove: Princeton Laboratories, alloy junction transistors.

L.J. Giacolleto: Princeton Laboratories,  transistor measurements and analysis of performance.

Herbert Kroemer: Princeton Laboratories,  inventor of the “drift transistor”.

L. D. Armstrong: Princeton Laboratories,  transistor development.

Herbert Nelson: Harrison Tube Division,    germanium crystal development.

 

 

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