Oral History – D. D. McBride
became acquainted with Ed Brown,
who also was a watchmaker. He had gone to work for Texas Instruments and
talked me into applying for a job – he said they were hiring all the
watchmakers they could find.
At TI, I had two very good
instructors. Ed Brown, who soon transferred to the crystal puller section,
(this left me as the sole point contact builder) and Boyd Cornelison.
Boyd was the “genius”. He could do just about anything. Ed and Boyd both
had a lot of patience to teach me. They also assigned a woman to work in
the group to help with the etching and cleaning process.
At some point when we were still
building the point contact transistors, we made a process change to use a
metal solid base for the header. The only way we could get these was
gold-plated. We found out we couldn’t solder directly to these, so we had
to dip them in a very hot solder pot, sometimes more than once to get a good
contact and flow of solder. I had to draw these out of the stockroom as I
needed them. It was such a pain to deal with the stockroom process that I
found it easier to salvage the rejected transistors and reuse the headers.
Well, I made about 30 transistors a day, so for numbers I would show 20
headers used (from the stockroom) and 30 transistors made. Steve
Karnavas, who was my boss and also in charge of the supplies and stockroom,
was a swell guy. We all gave him a (good natured) hard time whenever we
could. I remember this well:
Oral History – D. D. McBride
One day he came boiling out of
the supply room, yelling, “McBride, How the hell did you make 30
transistors and just use 20 headers!” Everything was ok after I explained
about the rejects.
I also remember about our
early quality control checks for the point contact transistors. When I had
finished the assembly process, the transistors were sent to a piece of
equipment (console?) for electrical “forming” which made them have point
contact performance. The good ones, after this process, were put in a
paper box. Then, Mark Sheppard and Jim Lacy, who were high level
managers, would throw this box as high as they could (we were in the old
bowling alley building at this time) and let the box hit the concrete floor
– they did this three times, I think. Then the transistors were tested
again, and all that passed were considered “good” transistors.
I also worked on the junction
transistor assembly line (I mentioned the Regency radio work earlier). One
night we were all in a hurry to get out and go home. I had a furnace going
(a tube furnace of quartz tubing about 3” in diameter). When time was up I
cut off the hydrogen, unplugged the furnace, and pulled the graphite boat
of transistors out of the furnace. I was in the process of unloading the
transistors when I remembered that I had not purged the furnace with
nitrogen when I turned it off. Well the plug was still out of the tube, so
Oral History, Page 4