Brattain drinking with student
Back to Washington
After he retired from Bell Labs, Brattain moved back to Walla Walla to teach at his alma mater, Whitman College. He worked on biophysics, taught a physics course for non-science majors, and listened to the music being played on campus so loudly thanks to his invention. "The only regret I have about the transistor is its use for rock and roll," he said more than once. He died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 85 on October 13, 1987.
Excerpts from interviews with Walter Brattain
"I asked Brown about going on [in physics]. I told him that I didn't want to go on unless I could be at least better than average. In fact, I think I asked him whether he though I had what it took to be a good physicist. I didn't want to be a mediocre one. And he assured me that he thought I was capable of being a good physicist." -- Walter Brattain, January, 1964
"It is of interest to those that ask whether we knew how important this was that the evening of the first day, when John had come in and suggested the geometry, I told my riding group that night, going home, that I felt that I had that day taken part in the most important experiment I had ever taken part in my life. And the next evening going home with them I had to swear them to secrecy." -- Walter Brattain, January 1964
"There was one time, after the Bell Labs management read this book on 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' that the management started calling everybody by their first names. It annoyed my because I learned everybody in the Bell Labs by their last names, and I have a poor memory, and to learn the first names over again when I was older was just completely impossible." -- Walter Brattain, May 1974
Copyright 1999, ScienCentral, Inc, and The American Institute of Physics. No portion of this web site may be reproduced without written permission. All Rights Reserved.