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Looking Back: How Transistors Would Improve the World

This oldie but goodie film, made around 1953, anticipates how the invention of the transistor by Bell Lab scientists would eventually impact society.

Spencer Chin

December 12, 2022

In recent weeks, there have been a number of tributes heralding the invention of the transistor, which was invented by Bell Lab scientists in 1947 and has spawned the modern generation of electronics.

While the tributes have looked back at the development of transistors and how the technology has evolved into MOSFETs, ICS, microprocessor, memory, and other modern chips, ever wonder how the invention of the transistor was viewed back then? Well, in this fascinating black-and-white video from around 1953, this film, recorded by Western Electric from the AT&T Tech Channel, Well, in this fascinating black-and-white video from around 1953, this film, recorded by Western Electric from the AT&T Tech Channel, boldly predicted the wide-ranging impact the transistor would eventually have on society.

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The documentary film starts with a clear, concise presentation of technology developments leading up to the transistor, including the ubiquitous vacuum tube. The film then compares the vacuum tube and transistor, pointing out the transistor’s advantages in size, thermal characteristics, and electrical properties.

The film predicts how the transistor would revolutionize long-distance telephone communications and help miniaturize many electronics devices. It proclaimed that the transistor would eventually result in a new generation of radios, portable TV sets, calculators and computers, and military equipment.

Related:Key Milestones in the Transistor's Evolution

While the film was spot-on in its predictions, little that the film’s creators know the extent to which the transistor would help improve society 70 years later.

You can view the video here.

 

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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