A Look Back at the Transistor on its 75 Birthday

The transistor, the component that created a revolution in modern, miniaturized electronics, turns 75 this week.

The first transistor, developed by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen, consisted of the semiconductor germanium, gold, a crude spring and a metal base. (Nokia USA Inc. and AT&T Archives)

The future began 75 years ago this week with the invention of something small that’s considered the most manufactured item in human history. Odds are, you are surrounded by them right now.

The transistor was born in December of 1947, in New Jersey, and it has defined the last half of the 20th century and the first quarter of the 21st. We’re exploring the cultures of innovation that brought us the device that changed everything.

Take a look around the room. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gadget or gizmo within reach that does not contain a transistor. Just about everything electronic is full of them.

Our information and communications world owes a debt to a team of physicists who took theories that had been kicking around for decades, and — after years of false starts and dead ends — got the first transistor to work early in the postwar era.

Walter Brattain and John Bardeen of Bell Telephone Laboratories were responsible.

Read the rest here.


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