facts about the invention of Transistors by
John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley in 1947.
|Almost every piece of equipment that stores, transmits,
displays, or manipulates information has at its core silicon chips filled with electronic
circuitry. These chips each house many thousands or even millions of transistors.
The history of the transistor begins with the dramatic
scientific discoveries of the 1800's scientists like Maxwell, Hertz, Faraday, and Edison
made it possible to harness electricity for human uses. Inventors like Braun, Marconi,
Fleming, and DeForest applied this knowledge in the development of useful electrical
devices like radio.
|Their work set the stage for
the Bell Labs scientists whose challenge was to use this knowledge to make practical and
useful electronic devices for communications. Teams of Bell Labs scientists, such as
Shockley, Brattain, Bardeen, and many others met the challenge.--and invented the
information age. They stood on the shoulders of the great inventors of the 19th century to
produce the greatest invention of the our time: the transistor.
The transistor was invented in 1947 at Bell Telephone
Laboratories by a team led by physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William
Shockley. At first, the computer was not high on the list of potential applications for
this tiny device. This is not surprisingwhen the first computers were built in the
1940s and 1950s, few scientists saw in them the seeds of a technology that would in a few
decades come to permeate almost every sphere of human life. Before the digital explosion,
transistors were a vital part of improvements in existing analog systems, such as radios
When it was placed in computers, however, the transistor became an integral part of the
technology boom. They are also capable of being mass-produced by the millions on a sliver
of siliconthe semiconductor chip. It is this almost boundless ability to integrate
transistors onto chips that has fueled the information age. Today these chips are not just
a part of computers. They are also important in devices as diverse as video cameras,
cellular phones, copy machines, jumbo jets, modern automobiles, manufacturing equipment,
electronic scoreboards, and video games. Without the transistor there would be no Internet
and no space travel.
In the years following its creation, the transistor gradually replaced the bulky,
fragile vacuum tubes that had been used to amplify and switch signals. The transistor became the building block for all modern electronics and the
foundation for microchip and computer technology.
Computing from The Great Idea
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Fire: The Birth of the Information Age
by Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson / Paperback: 368 pages / W.W. Norton & Company;
This book is very well written, and does a good job of telling the history of the
invention of the transistor. The book focuses on the technological aspects of the
invention, but also does a great job of telling the story of the personalities, and (now
multi-million dollar) businesses that were involved with the invention.
Strange Stories, Amazing Facts ( This
title is out of print. )
by Readers Digest Editors / Hardcover - 608 pages (1976) / Readers Digest Association
Man's amazing inventions only covers 32 pages.
ON THE WEB:
Bell Labs is the birthplace of the transistor, inventing the device that led to a
communications revolution. They stood on the shoulders of the great
inventors of the 19th century to produce the greatest invention of the our time: the
The transistor, more than any other single development, made possible the
marriage of computers and communication.
Inventions of the Millennium by Herb Brody
The last 1,000 years have produced an incredible number and variety of scientific
and technological breakthroughs, but which of these were the most important?
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Semiconductor Amplifier; Three-Electrode Circuit Element Utilizing Semiconductive
Materials Transistor Patent Number(s) 2,502,488; 2,524,035
See what the recent innovations have been and what they are working on today.
The Transistor was probably the most important invention of the 20th Century, and the
story behind the invention is one of clashing egos and top secret research. Web site that
accompanies a Public Broadcasting System television show about the history of the
The Discovery of the Transistor
A very brief summary of the discovery of transistors. Large image gallery of early
of the First Transistor
The American Physical Society - APS News Online, November 2000 edition.
A brief bio on John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley
from Bell Labs. They were awarded the
Nobel Prize in physics in 1956.
HOW IT WORKS:
What Is It!
In order to grasp the transistor effect, you need to understand how a transistor can
function both as an insulator and a conductor.
DID YOU KNOW?:
- Public announcement of the discovery was delayed for six
months until June of 1948. Time was needed to gain an understanding of the device and to
prepare the patent position.
- Dr. Shockley left Bell Labs in 1955 to establish Shockley
Semiconductor Laboratory (part of Beckman Instruments, Inc.), an effort that was
instrumental in the birth of Silicon Valley and the electronics industry. His former
employees later invented the integrated circuit and founded Intel, the most successful
microprocessor company in the world.
- Inventors John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter
Brattain -- shared the Nobel Prize for their 1947 invention of this tiny, reliable,
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised March, 2005.
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
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