The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

June 30th birthday of the transistor

On June 30, 1948, Bell Labs announced the invention of the transistor in New York City.

Several months before, on December 16, 1947, three physicists at Bell Laboratories actually built the world's first transistor (bipolar).

William Shockley, John Bardeen and William Brattain are the three physicists who had been looking for a semiconductor amplifier to take the place of the vacuum tubes that made electronics so fragile and power hungry. They waited six months for the announcement, so they could experiment further and apply for patents. As soon as the transistor was shown to the public, they demonstrated it on the television and radio using the transistors instead of the tubes.

Few devices have had such a profound impact on the world's economy, and these are foundational to computers, communications and almost every aspect of our lives through sensors.

I did see a reference in Wikipedia to a previous invention in 1925 by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld of a MOSFET device that had transistor like characteristics. I was curiously unable to find the original patent as described in the US patent office archives. The Bell team is generally recognized as the inventor, since they were able to include it in practical devices.

Labels: Nostalgia

InkJet printing at 25

The other day I saw the announcement about the 25th anniversary of the ThinkJet printer. When these hit the streets I was working at Delco Electronics in their semiconductor fab. They arrived at about the same time as the HP 150 (an early touch screen PC), and we used to think that the ThinkJet was significantly better than the thermal printers that came in the HP 150, and exponentially better than the dot matrix ‘skreeeeeeeet', in an office environment. With the simplicity and relative low cost of the ink jet printer, the industry embraced it and hardly looked back.


It was definitely a quite different world back then, and this technology that is so common today was viewed as revolutionarily simple. The price went down radically and the quality went up as well (as long as you didn't spill any water on it, or need to print carbon copies).


It does make me wonder about what technologies we're seeing this year that will have as much impact on our work environment.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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