The age of micro-electronics is really taken for granted now. We expect microwave ovens and cell-phones. We expect remote controlled appliances and we expect sophisticated monitoring systems on car engines, transport monitoring and radio / TV. Had a few research scientists not delved into semi-conducting materials and developed the transistor, the foundations for much of this would not have been laid. At this moment every computer in the world, every mobile phone, every calculator, every washing machine, every
car, every MP3 player, every Satellite navigation device, every... Every... Every .. Well what to include ! It is almost impossible to go on listing devices that contain not one, but thousands .... Tens of thousands and yet more ....
( Thanks to Andrew Richmond for starting the impossible question of “Just how many transistors are there on the planet at this moment ?“ )
William Shockley is a name that certainly should not be left out of any discussion over the transistor and its origins and limiting the honours to any one of the three named ‘inventors’ would be unfair to the others. Schockley’s work with semiconductors led to the possibilities of the products we own today.... But without the perseverance of this team of scientists maybe the breakthrough would have been less certain.
All three shared the Nobel prize in 1956 for the development of the transistor.
William Shockley at the laboratory of Brattain - 1947
The first transistor is seen on the left
In the months that followed a ‘cartridge style version of the transistor was made - much larger than those seen today - and some 4000 were made by 1949. The 1950 Patent cites Brattain and Bardeen but the patent for the more useful ‘junction transistor’ on which our
modern versions rely is in the name of William Shockley.
Both patents took some time to be listed after their original application.