Shockley and Bardeen and Brattain, Oh My!

Where would our modern world be without the ubiquitous transistor? Many of the “things” that we take for granted on a daily basis would not work or even exist without this little switch. Televising The Revolution celebrates the Sixtieth birthday of the Transistor, born on December 16, 1947. 


 With a tip of the Televising The Revolution hat we thank the three physicists from Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., who built the world’s first transistor. William Shockley, John Bardeen and William Brattain. This triumvirate of inventors had been looking for a semiconductor amplifier to take the place of the vacuum tubes that made radios and other electronics so impossibly bulky, hot and power hungry. They were so instantly certain they’d found their answer that they didn’t speak a word of it to anyone for six months, until they could experiment further and apply for patents. 


 June 30, 1948, Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain held a press conference in New York City. They showed the world not only a big model of a transistor but also a TV and a radio with transistors in place of the tubes. Nobody was talking about anything like computers yet, but it was a first look at the future we all live in. The world’s response? The New York Times ran an item at the bottom of its “News of Radio” column on page 46.  

Just another world rocking invention that began with a whimper but certainly commands a roaring presence today. -33-


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