Mr. Ed Millis is uniquely
qualified to comment on the early history of the transistor at Texas
Instruments. After joining Geophysical Service, Inc., predecessor of Texas
Instruments, in 1950 as an engineer on military electronic equipment, Ed
transferred in June 1954 to the Semiconductor Manufacturing organization.
This was the beginning of a long and successful association between Ed and
TI semiconductors. He was involved in many of the manufacturing and
production engineering improvements for the TI transistor program
throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. This work resulted in several
important patents, most notably, with others on the engineering team, for
the Centralized Automated Tester, or “CAT” system which was the mainstay of
the TI transistor production testing process for many years. This work
also lead to a paper in the 1959 IRE National Convention Record.
In addition to his substantial
technical acomplishments, Ed is a talented author. The material in this
Oral History has been based, in large part, on Ed’s book, “TI, the
Transistor and Me” © 2000 by Ed Millis. This is a very readable account
of Ed’s career at TI and provides quite a detailed discussion of the
historic events of the TI transistor program – equally as interesting are
numerous personal recollections of many of the key contibutors who were
Oral History – Ed Millis
This Oral History was developed in April 2001 from
material in Ed’s book, “TI, the Transistor and Me”, © 2000 by Ed Millis.
I began work in the TI
semiconductor group in June of 1954. At this time, transistors were being
manufactured in a converted bowling alley on Lemmon Ave in Dallas. My first job here was working for Mr. Cecil Dotson as a foreman on the transistor
production line, which was the method used by TI to train new semiconductor
engineers. This was a terrific experience. I was the boss of four nice
ladies, all of whom knew a lot more about building transistors than I did.
We were building the TI 300 series PNP alloy-junction transistors in an
oval solder-seal package. They came in three different models: the Type
300 with the lowest gain, or performance, the 301 with an intermediate
range of gain, and the 302 which was the hot stuff with a “beta” or current
gain of 50 or above. Those that met these specifications sold for ten to
fifteen dollars each. Those that didn’t went into the reject bucket.
Before long, the ladies had
trained me to do all the operations necessary to build the transistors,
although they did better with their delicate touch on certain of these
process steps than I did. For example, holding a piece of hair-sized wire
with a pair of precision tweezers “just so” against the indium dot on the
side of the germanium chip and spot-welding the other end to a header post
while peering through a microscope.
Oral History, Page 2