Transistor Museum Lecture Hall

Featuring Mr. Thomas Stanley

Recounting The Historic Details of his Work with

“The First RCA Transistor Radios”


Curator’s Introduction


Welcome to another in a series of historically significant lectures relating to important events in the history of transistor development.  Tom Stanley has agreed to recount many of the exciting and as yet unpublicized aspects of the work at the RCA Labs on early transistor devices and applications, including the first RCA transistor radios.  Tom brings a unique technical and personal perspective to this exciting time and I’m sure you’ll enjoy his comments.



The photo above is a front view of one of the first RCA transistor radios described by Tom Stanley in this lecture. This is the very radio that reproduced those glorious sounds transmitted from a local radio station to a Princeton NJ parking lot almost fifty years ago. The photo is taken from an article co-authored by Dave Holmes, Tom Stanley, and Larry Freedman entitled “A Developmental Pocket-Size Broadcast Receiver Employing Transistors” – first published in the Proc of the I.R.E., June 1955, and later in the book “TRANSISTORS 1”, Copyright © 1956 by RCA  Laboratories.  




The First RCA Transistor Radios

by Thomas Stanley


Mr. Stanley provided these comments

 in July and August, 2001.


It was the moment of truth, a sparkling mid-fifties, midsummer noon.  High noon for us.  Dave Holmes and I were far out in the RCA Laboratories parking lot listening in near reverence to "do not forsake me, oh my darling" booming with gratifying richness from a little box the size of today's palm pilot.  This was the first field test of our elegant little transistor radio.  A few all-transistor radios had been assembled earlier, but this was the first to be subject, successfully, to exhaustive performance checks. It was the model for commercial transistor radios that followed in due course.  Ironically, people called the little radios "transistors!"


I'd had a hand, too, in one of those earlier radios, not long after I joined RCA in 1950, reporting as a trainee to Loy Barton.  Disarmingly “Davy Crockettish” for a researcher, Loy was one of the small handful of wizards fabricating point-contact transistors, forming collector junctions by judiciously locating a sewing-needle point on the germanium wafer surface, and then zapping it electrically (Charlie Mueller's wonderful alloy-junction transistors had not yet come into being.)


Go To Stanley, Page 2


COPYRIGHT © 2001 by Jack Ward.  All Rights Reserved.