Sunday, December 16, 2007

Going Green: Happy 60th Birthday to the Transistor

On December 16, 1947, William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain demonstrated the "transistor effect" at Bell Labs, launching us into the modern solid-state electronics, semiconductor and computer world. The three would go on to win the 1956 Noble Prize in Physics for their invention.

Prior to transistors, computers were made with thousands of vacuum tubes and were huge energy consuming devices. According to In the late 1940's, big computers were built with over 10,000 vacuum tubes and occupied over 93 square meters of space. Transistors replaced these vacuum tubes which leaked, burned out and consumed huge amounts of power.

Over the years, engineers and scientists have figured out how to make electronic devices smaller, lighter and less power hungry using transistors. They've been around for a long time and we tend to forget or take for granted their significance - transistors are the building blocks for "green" (and all other) electronics based technologies. Happy Birthday!

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