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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Transistor! 1953 Bell System Film -- Great Stuff!

Thermatron fans beware!  There is some trash talking of tubes in this 1953 Bell film.  But there is also a lot of recognition of the contribution made by our beloved valves.  I especially liked the report on the historic 1915 phone transmissions from Arlington, Virginia. ( I drive past the transmitter site every work day).  FIVE HUNDRED TUBES combined to send the human voice from Arlington to both the Eiffel Tower and to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  FB OM!  59!

I was disappointed, however, that this film failed to recognize another momentous 1953 achievement in sold state electronics:  In that year, 11 year-old Pete Juliano built his first solid state amplifier -- an audio amp using a CK722 transistor.  Read about it here: http://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/2015/03/pete-juliano-homebrwing-with.html

The fact that Pete was homebrewing solid state circuits at the time that this film was made is a reminder of the vast experience that he has, and of how much technological progress we have made in such a short period of time.


  1. Just now watching this interesting old documentary, I discovered it's on the AT&T YouTube channel on which there is a playlist "AT&T Archives." 212 videos of Bell Labs documentaries like this one on transistors. Great stuff. Apparently, though, AT&T is little more than a brand nowadays. Nokia now owns Bell Labs. --Todd K7TFC

  2. I'm wondering when and why corporate giants like Nokia arose. Did they have to globalise by acquisition just to stay afloat?

  3. I also smoked (burnt out) several transistors as early as 1953. So that means not much has changed in 60 plus years.

    Pete N6QW

  4. Interesting video. To think what the transistor and fiber optics have enabled in communication.

    I was fortunate to see Dr. Shockley speak about his work on the transistor at my university in 1982. Fascinating stuff.


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