Bell Telephone Laboratories - The Transistor
June 1952 Radio-Electronics

June 1952 Radio-Electronics

June 1952 Radio-Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Electronics, published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

When this self-promotion of progress made on the transistor invention by Bell Telephone Laboratories appeared in the June 1952 issue of Radio−Electronics magazine, a mere three and a half years had passed since the announcement of the achievement by Drs. Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley. Interestingly, it refers to germanium as a metal rather than as a semiconductor. In that interim, many problems had been solved in the effort to make robust, reproducible devices that were affordable replacements for vacuum tubes. One of the primary differences between the most recent transistors and the early models was the use of doped junctions rather than point contacts. This made them more resistant to effects of vibration, temperature changes, and contamination, and also produced higher yields in manufacturing. Gaining the confidence of designers was imperative if the newfangled technology was to gain (pun intended) ground as the preferred component for amplifier, oscillator, mixer, and other type of circuits traditionally served by tubes.

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Bell Telephone Laboratories Transistor, June 1952 Radio-Electronics - RF CafeThe Transistor - A picture report of progress

First 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.

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.

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.

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.

Much 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.

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.

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Posted June 14, 2022

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