Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Transistor


Today's picture shows the first transistor which was developed by William Shockley in the 1950's. While this device is crude in appearance, it demonstrated the physics which enabled the modern electronics revolution.

Prior to the transistor, all electronics were made of vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes were fragile, relatively large, expensive, and burned out all the time. The more complicated an electronic device was, the more vacuum tubes it required, and hence the more often it stopped working, because one of the tubes would burn out. The transistor was a small, solid state device, built in a semiconducting material. Transistors could be built very affordably and pretty much would last forever. Initially they were used to simply replace vacuum tubes. Designs that had 20 tubes would be built instead with 20 individual transistors. The big breakthrough came a few years later when people realized that instead of building individual transistors on a piece of Silicon, and then assembling them that all the transistors could be built at the same time on a piece of silicon, batch fabricating the entire circuit. This is what became known as the modern Integrated Circuit. Today, Silicon chips the size of a postage stamp can have over 10 Billion transistors.

UPDATE:

The thumbs up and thumbs down buttons have been causing problems with the operation of the WEB site, so I have taken them off, and replaced them with the google "+1" button. If you like the post, give it a plus one. Out to the side it should show how many people have given it a plus one. Google actually keeps track of the numbers and uses them to steer people to sites that people like.

7 comments:

  1. If you hadn't already told us I'd think you went to a modern art exhibit in NYC and took pictures. This looks better than most of the garbage that passes for art in some of those places (especially the Whitney Museum).
    I find it interesting when an early stages gadget like this with all its makeshift parts lets you appreciate the genius of the inventor.

    John

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  2. John,
    I was actually thinking about making this a mystery device contest. It is an odd looking unit.
    PJM

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  3. What a great idea - a mystery device contest! Or perhaps a mystery place? Where's Roger aka 'RTD' to agree with me?

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  4. Looks like something out of (Young) Frankenstein's laboratory.

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  5. I showed the picture to my wife. She likes it and wants me to build one. If I do it won't be functional. Glad she didn't see the Trinity photos.

    John

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  6. Is that a paperclip I see? Haha!

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  7. My grandfather used to fix tv's and when I played in his workshop all I can remember was tubes everywhere!He had an Oscilloscope which to me was the control panel for my spaceship! The tubes were little robots with long screws taped to their backs as rocket packs! Man! Did he ever get mad at me for what I did to his supply of television repair parts?Have a good day.

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