Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Transistor

The Independent Press reminds us this week that Sunday was the 60th anniversary of the Noble Prize-worthy transistor, invented in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Berkeley Heights.

Although originally invented as a way to amplify voices over the telephone, transistors are now an essential part of the silicon chips that power your computer. The more transistors on a chip, the faster the computing speed. CNN recently noted that we are reaching the point where transistors can't be made any smaller, which has spurred research on ways to use the transistors on chips more efficiently.

BHPL has a 7 volume history of Bell Labs up to 1975 entitled A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System. For a more recent (and less daunting) history, try End of the Line: The Rise and Fall of AT&T by Leslie Cauley. If you are interested in the transistors' inventors, BHPL has the biography of John Bardeen, True Genius: The Life and Science of John Bardeen by Lillian Hoddeson.

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