The First Transistor - The Beginning of the Microelectronics Revolution

First Transistor
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A Picture of the First Transistor Ever Assembled

John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley discovered the transistor effect and developed the first device in December 1947, while the three were members of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ.

Developed as a replacement for bulky and inefficient vacuum tubes and mechanical relays, the transistor later revolutionized the entire electronics world.

The picture above is of the first transistor ever assembled. It was called a point contact transistor because amplification or transistor action occurred when two pointed metal contacts were pressed onto the surface of the semiconductor material. The contacts, which are supported by a wedge shaped piece of insulating material, are placed extremely close together so that they are separated by only a few thousandths of an inch. The contacts are made of gold and the semiconductor is germanium. The semiconductor rests on a metal base.

Today, modern integrated circuits can contain millions of transistors.


PBS documentary on the transistor invention called Transistorized .

A few pages from Walter Brattain's lab notebook on December 24th 1947, the day the world's first transistor was successfully tested.

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