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Bell Telephone Laboratories - The Transistor
June 1952 Radio & Television News

June 1952 Radio & Television News
June 1952 Radio & Television News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

It was just before Christmas in 1948 that Bell Telephone Laboratories announced the invention of the transistor by Messrs. Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain. Though constructed of a slab of germanium and a flimsy point contact of wire, it represented for the first time the use of a semiconductor which exhibited signal gain. The technical gauntlet had been thrown down for manufacturers worldwide to develop improved versions with higher gain, wider operating frequency, greater current and voltage handling, more robustness and higher power handling, while shrinking the physical size of bare die and packaging, and lowering costs... and doing it all without infringing on the blitzkrieg of patents being filed in scores of countries. This self-promotion in a 1952 issue of Radio & Television News magazine is typical of many such ads run by Bell Labs over the years.

The Transistor - A picture report of progress

The Transistor Bell Telephone Laboratories, June 1952 Radio & Television News - RF CafeFirst Transistors were of this point contact type (picture three times life size). Current is amplified as it flows between wires through a wafer of germanium metal. These transistors are now being made at the Allentown plant of Western Electric, manufacturing unit of the Bell System. They will be used in a new selector which finds the best routes for calls in Long Distance dialing.

New Junction Transistors, still experimental, also use germanium but have no point contacts. Current is amplified as it flows through germanium "sandwich" - an electron-poor layer of the metal between two electron-rich ends. This new transistor runs on as little as one-millionth of the power of small vacuum tubes.

Much Had to Be Learned, especially about the surface of germanium and the effect of one part in a million of alloying materials. Transistors promise many uses - as amplifiers, oscillators, modulators ... for Local and Long Distance switching ... to count electrical pulses.

Assembly Problems, such as fixing hair-thin wires to barely visible germanium wafers, have been solved through new tools and mechanized techniques. Finished transistors withstand great vibration and shock. Engineers see many opportunities for these rugged devices in national defense.

Moist Paper and Coin generate enough current to drive audio oscillator using junction transistors. Half as big as a penny matchbox, an experimental two-stage transistor amplifier does the work of miniature-tube amplifiers ten times larger.

A tiny amplifying device first announced by Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1948 is about to appear as a versatile element in telephony.

Each step in the work on the transistor ... from original theory to initial production technique ... has been carried on within the Laboratories. Thus, Bell scientists demonstrate again how their skills in many fields, from theoretical physics to production engineering, help improve telephone service.

Bell Telephone Laboratories

Improving telephone service for America provides careers for creative men in scientific and technical fields.

Bell Telephone Laboratories Infomercials


Posted October 11, 2021

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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