The transistor turns 60!

Electronics Magazine - September 1948On December 16, 1947, Bells Labs scientists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley came out with a revolutionary technology that would change the world of electronics forever: the transistor.

The transistor, a semiconductor device used in today’s most advanced electronic machines, is undeniably one of the most important technological discoveries of the 20th century.

Considering the implications this invention has had on the world of technology and production, it’s easy to understand why its inventors won the Nobel Prize of physics back in 1956. Not only did the transistor allow manufacturers to replace the old lamp technology used in the 1950s and 60s, but because of it, electronic gadgets became much, much smaller.

As the years passed, the transistor evolved into integrated circuits. And just to give you an idea about how much the technology has evolved in the past 30 years, consider this: In the early 1970s, Intel manufactured its first processor, in which we could find 2,300 transistors. In 1995, The Pentium Pro contained 5.5 million transistors. And can you guess how many transistors a current Quad Core processor has? Six-hundred million.

Back in its early history, a single transistor cost about $18 per unit, so by my calculations, a modern microprocessor would have cost $10.8 billion in the 1960s. Pretty cheap uh?


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