Tiny Electric Unit Promises Wonders

http://search.proquest.com/hnpnewyorktimes/docview/112514057/33E2BA65C94D4C74PQ/15?accountid=14902

“TINY ELECTRIC UNIT PROMISES WONDERS: ‘Transistor’ the Size of a Corn Kernel May Cut Dimensions of TV and Radio Sets”

The main point of this article is to raise public awareness of what was at the time a new device, the transistor. Like many inventions, this one was heralded as the most amazing thing that has ever happened, but in this case they were either very close to the truth or as far as you can get from it depending on how you view the revolution that computing technology has had on the country and the world.

In what turned out to be a great prediction for an article posted in 1952, “thus it may soon be possible to put on the markets radios of pocket size that will play almost as well as the present table models”. Transistor radio. One of the many faces of the 1950’s, the transistor radio is what they are describing.

This article also uses the description of the transistor as “made up of a bit of wire and plastic with a tiny speck of almost pure germanium metal at its core”. This fairly well describes the idea of the transistor, the main thing that made it so important was this idea that it was the germanium acting as the semiconductor. It replaced the vacuum tube, and one of the many drawbacks of the vacuum tube was that aside from being too large and fragile it required many other circuits to act as heating elements for the semiconductor part of the mechanism (this is the soft “glow” that some people describe old radios as having.).

The most interesting part of this article is probably its description of how the new invention was going to be used. Dr. Engstrom is cited as saying that the first commercial use of the transistor is going to be in “improved electronic computing machines”. Computers. They existed before, but were limited by the technology of the vacuum tube because when thousands were put together one would always burn out and break the circuit before any useful computing could be done.

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