EARLY SEMICONDUCTOR DEVELOPMENT AT SHOCKLEY TRANSISTOR CORPORATION 

Gene Weckler

 

Oral History – Gene Weckler

(Continued)

 

What types of customer requests were you getting?

Counters, power converters, pulse modulators, cross points, even audio generators for electronic organs. The list goes on and on.   I can remember one little altimeter we were doing for, I think, Bendix.  It called for a 75ns wide pulse for a magnetron they were using in the altimeter – a radar altimeter.  I can still remember getting across the 600V power supply.  In  1959 a 75 ns pulse was extremely fast.  Hard to believe that today.   As I previously mentioned, I wrote the first Mil Spec for a 4-layer diode – to 19500C.   I did that with the help of Clevite after they acquired us.  At that time I didn’t even know how to read a Mil Spec!  Early on, I was also helping some of the people in the R&D lab, with instrumentation.  I just wore a lot of different hats.  I did some testers for production, life test data - for being right out of school, only a few months out of school, I was given an awful lot of responsibility.  But I had Rudy Biesele there, who was kind of a father type. He helped me and guided me.

   

I’ve read that the production process for the 4-layer diodes was demanding.

Yes.  Very sensitive to everything from the chemical dicing (if you black-waxed the wrong side, you had the slopes on the chip in the wrong direction to support the fields.) Any moisture (these were mesa structures) would wipe out the high voltage units.  The 200V units were at one time assembled in a flame to keep them dry.  

 

 

 

Oral History – Gene Weckler (Continued)

 

We probably had a wide range of performance and would sort out the units with tests.

 

I have a couple of Shockley diodes that are glass bodied, with axial leads.  I think the earliest ones were metal cased.

Yes.  The first were metal, then we went to glass.  Later, I think there were power units  (TO9 case) metal, with stud mounts.  I don’t remember when this happened, but we got a lot of glass technology available to us when Clevite acquired us.  Some of the people that came from Hughes to Clevite were really very good industrial engineers, but the assembly of 4 layer diodes never made it back to Waltham (after Clevite acquired us). 

 

Were the 4-layer diodes made in production quantities?

Yes.  There were 1000s made – I don’t know the total.  Shockley’s objective, when he started the 4-layer diode program, was to replace all 2 billion contacts in the Bell System.  These were all stepper switches, at the time, which have long since disappeared, although the cross-points are still used. I built a breadboard of a cross-point switch using the 4-layer diodes while at Shockley.  

 

 

 

Go To Weckler Oral History, Page 5

 

 

 

 

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