history of the transistor
Before the transistor
could be invented, humans had to learn how to control electricity.
It was the work of scientists such as Maxwell, Hertz, Farday and
Edison during the 1800s that made this control of electricity
possible. These people were quickly followed by others, such as
Braun, Marconi, Fleming and DeForest, who applied this newly-found
knowledge to developing useful inventions, such as the radio (wireless).
At the Bell
Labs in America, scientists set up a team to investigate ways
to use this knowledge to make practical devices for improving
communication. Three of the scientists in this team were John
Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley. They conducted
experiments with a greyish-white element called germanium, using
it as a semiconductor, to switch and modulate electric currents.
They discovered the transistor effect and developed the first
device in December 1947. For their work, they were awarded the
Nobel Prize in physics in 1956.
The first transistor
was very simple - a paper clip, two tiny slivers of gold and a
chunk of germanium resting on a crystal plate. Following its first
demonstration, the scientists wrote in their notebook, ... this
circuit was actually spoken over and by switching the device in
and out, distinct gains in speech level could be heard ....
The first appplications
for the new transistor were for country telephone carriers and
in headset amplifiers for telephone operators. In 1954, the transistor
became an essential part of the electronic telephone switching
system, and a key part of many other devices, such as portable
radios, computers and radar.
In the 50+
years since that first demonstration, the transistor has become
an essential part of daily business and human life.