Who invented the transistor?

Asked by: Mary


In the mid 1940’s a team of scientists working for Bell Telephone Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, were working to discover a device to replace the then present vacuum tube technology. Vacuum tubes were the only technology available at the time to amplify signals or serve as switching devices in electronics. The problem was that they were expensive, consumed a lot of power, gave off too much heat, and were unreliable, causing a great deal of maintenance.  Vacuum Tube

Bardeen, Brattain and ShockleyThe scientists that were responsible for the 1947 invention of the transistor were: John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. Bardeen, with a Ph.D. in mathematics and physics from Princeton University, was a specialist in the electron conducting properties of semiconductors. Brattain, Ph.D., was an expert in the nature of the atomic structure of solids at their surface level and solid-state physics. Shockley, Ph.D., was the director of transistor research for Bell Labs.

The First Transistor Their original patent name for the transistor was: “Semiconductor amplifier; Three-electrode circuit element utilizing semiconductive materials.” In 1956, the group was awarded the Noble Prize in Physics for their invention of the transistor. In 1977, John Bardeen was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Answered by: Stephen Portz, Technology Teacher, Space Coast Middle School, FL



Science Quote

'The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative... '

Michio Kaku

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