EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS 

D. D. McBride

 

Oral History – D. D. McBride

(Continued)

 

very gently replaced the plug (it was a graphite plug) and proceeded to purge the furnace.  But, as it happened, enough oxygen had gotten into the tube that there was a loud “Bang!”. Well, around the corner comes Boyd, with Steve Karnavas and Mark Sheppard not far behind.  Steve wanted to know “What the Hell was I doing?”. I just said that Mark had wanted a really “hot” run of transistors.  Everybody had a big laugh.  In the end, it was a good run of transistors and I got only one small cut on a finger.

 

Point Contact Transistors and the

 U.S. Space Program

 

(Author’s Note: According to Ed Millis, a former TI transistor production engineer and author of the book “TI, the Transistor and Me”, the last point contact transistor to be built at TI was built by “Mac” McBride in 1975.  Ed was the engineer on the project and recollects that he had been contacted by some NASA personnel who had grown germanium crystal in outer space as part of the SkyLab program, and were interested in determining if a transistor could be made from the material. Ed contacted “Mac”, who was the only remaining TI employee who had actually made a point contact transistor. The following is how “Mac” remembers the story).

 

TI grew the first germanium crystal in outer space and they wanted to know if I could build a point contact transistor for them.  I  still had the points, but no header.  They

 

    

 

 

Oral History – D. D. McBride

(Continued)

 

told me they could come up with a header, although it wasn’t designed for a point contact transistor.  There was a NASA Ph.D. involved in this, but I don’t remember his name.  Anyway, I got all my stuff together, took about a week, and “Bingo”, we had a point contact transistor from material grown in outer space!  Now when they tried to form it and test it, it wouldn’t work.  Seems that the original point contact transistors were made from “N” type germanium and the NASA stuff was “P” type.  So, they did some checking and determined that the point material was the problem.  Someone thought that if we nickel plated the points, then the transistor would work.  Well, my point supply was getting pretty low by this time, but we got the Plating Dept to plate a set of my points with nickel, and that took care of the problem.  I don’t know how good the transistor was, but they said it made a transistor.  Now, they told me that my last point contact transistor is now somewhere in a museum.  How about that?  This was a very personal experience and a pleasure.

 

 

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  McBride Oral History, Page 5

 

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