EARLY TRANSISTOR HISTORY AT

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS 

Elmer Wolff Jr

 

Biographic Note

 

Mr. Elmer Wolff Jr was involved with the Texas Instruments semiconductor program almost from the very beginning.  TI had been eager to enter the newly emerging semiconductor business, and, in 1951, the company paid $25,000 to Western Electric for a transistor license and soon thereafter established the TI Semiconductor Division. Mr. Wolff became the fifth employee of the TI Semiconductor Division, joining in August, 1953, and reporting directly to Mark Sheperd.  Prior to joining TI, Elmer had received a BSEE degree for SMU in 1952 and stayed on as a grad student, teaching lab courses until receiving his MSEE in 1953.  During his 33 year career with TI, he received 15 U.S. patents related to semiconductor devices and processes, wrote the first TI device data sheets, did extensive device development for the first commercial transistor radio (the Regency TR1), presented a paper at the Wescon show in 1957 on the first diffused silicon power device he had developed, and was the TI representative to the EIA group.  From the late 1950s, Mr. Wolff held engineering management positions for TI in Europe, and managed operations in Canada and Central America.  He retired in 1986 from corporate engineering, after a 33 year career at TI.  He currently resides in the Dallas area, and remains active in semiconductor engineering.

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Oral History – Elmer Wolff Jr

 

This Oral History was developed from material supplied by Mr. Elmer Wolff Jr

In August  2001.

 

It was the policy of Texas Instruments in 1953 to introduce each new engineering employee by exposing him to a complete orientation of the area of business or project to which he would be assigned.  I was extremely fortunate to be teamed with Boyd Cornelison, one of the original TI technical people to attend the Western Electric Transistor Symposium in 1952 (the other TI attendees were Mark Shepherd, Pat Haggerty and Bob Olson).  The location of the semiconductor project  was in one corner of the mechanical machine shop that was part of the Texas Instruments military equipment group.  The Semiconductor Activity at TI started as a project and the project engineer was Mark Shepherd.  After my orientation training, Boyd and I became very close friends and bonded together so well that we were almost viewed as “Siamese twins” by our fellow workers.  It was unusual to see either one of us without the other, even at lunch or coffee break. At that time, we were both reporting directly to Mark Shepherd, and as I remember it, the entire Semiconductor Group consisted of a total of five professional employees.   This group was small enough that we would all be able to fit into Mark’s office every Saturday morning to review the results from the past week and plan for the next week’s activities.

 

Wolff Oral History, Page 2

 

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