Bernard N. Slade

Oral History – Bob Slade


Oral History – Bob Slade



My approach was to vary such parameters as the spacing between the point contacts, the contact material, the shape of the contacts,  the resistivity of the germanium, the methods of protecting the device, and the condition of the germanium surface.  I also studied the effect of environmental factors such as heat and humidity on the performance and reliability of the these devices. In carrying out these studies, I gathered a great deal of data and used standard experimental methods and statistical techniques These analyses enabled me to determine the behavior and performance of the transistor under varying conditions. I was able to generate enough data to actualy design devices having different characteristics and levels of performance. One of the results of this work was the design of what was at that time, the highest frequency devices in the industry. [5] 


What types of early devices were built to demonstrate the abilities of the transistor? (Radios, TV's, amplifiers, etc?)


In parallel with the transistor development, RCA carried out a great deal of experimentation in the use of transistors in television, FM radio, and hearing aids. Although the point contact transistor was never a serious contender for wisespread use in commercial products, it was certainly a very important instrument for evaluating the use of semiconductor devices as replacements for the vacuum tube. Overcoming many of the shortcomings of the point contact device, the alloy junction transistor was a far more stable product and constituted a significant step forward in the industry.




At the early stage of transistor development, the high frequency characteristics of specially designed point contact transistors were used in the experimental high frequency applications such as oscillators at frequencies as high as  300 megacycles, and TV video amplifiers at 20 megacycles, speeds which, by today’s standards, seem unusually slow, but in 1952, virtually revolutionary. These devices were also used in experimental FM radios and early hearing aids.


I was personally responsible for the development of these high frequency point contact devices. In addition, I also developed P-N-P and N-P-N germanium power transistors for use in audio amplification. These were built using alloyed  emitters and collectors, and an alternative process  using an alloyed emitter and a diffused collector. These power devices were used in early experimental transistorized high-fidelity audio amplifiers at RCA. 





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