Monday, July 9, 2012

Birthday (61) of the JUNCTION transistor

From EDN:

Bell Labs and primarily William Shockley announced the invention of the junction transistor at a press conference in Murray Hill, NJ, the first week of July, 1951.
Sources vary as to when the formal announcement was actually made, July 4, 1951, or July 5, 1951.
At the time, Shockley was with Bell Labs’ solid state physics group, a unit to which he was a group head and a unit that saw much internal competition.
This new type of transistor overcame problems created by earlier point-contact transistors, developed by Bell Labs’ Joe Bardeen and Walter Brattain without Shockley but based in part on his previous work. It is said that when the patent process began for the point-contact transistor, Shockley made an effort to have his name only placed on the patent and made sure his fellow engineers knew of that effort.
Shockley has been described as having a “tremendous ego” by his co-workers. He was also known as having openly racist views.
Although Shockley is often known as “the inventor” of the transistor and despite his reported ego, he was often noted as correcting such misstatement and noting that he led the effort with others involved. Notes made during the development of the junction transistor can be viewed here.
Shockley left Bell Labs a few years after working on the junction transistor and eventually became a professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford. He died on campus in 1989 at the age of 79.

For more moments in tech history, see this blog.

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