Transistor (Encyclopedia of Science)
A transistor is a solid-state electronic device used to control the flow of an electric current. The term solid-state refers to devices that take advantage of special properties of solids. (It usually refers to devices made of semiconducting materials.) Since they were invented in the 1940s, transistors have come to revolutionize modern communications. They are found in an enormous variety of electrical devices, ranging from popular consumer items such as home computer games, pocket calculators, and portable stereos to the complex electronic systems used by business and industry.
Until World War II (19395), most systems of communication used vacuum tubes for the amplification and control of electrical current. However, vacuum tubes have a number of serious disadvantages. They are bulky and fragile, they consume a lot of power, and they have a tendency to overheat. The demands of radar in particular during the war encouraged scientists to look for another method of amplifying and controlling electric current in communication devices.
The discovery of the transistor was announced in 1948 by three scientists from the Bell Telephone Laboratories: William Shockley (1910989), John Bardeen (1908991), and Walter Brattain (1902987). The key to this discovery is a class of materials known as semiconductors. Semiconductors are substances...
(The entire section is 848 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!