EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS 

Edwin G. Millis

 

Biographic Note

 

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 involved. 

 

______________

    

 

 

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.   

 

Millis Oral History, Page 2

COPYRIGHT © 2001 by Jack Ward.  All Rights Reserved.  http://www.transistormuseum.com

Page 1