On naming the transistor:
"The way I provided the name, was to think of what the device did.  And at that time, it was supposed to be the dual of the vacuum tube.  The vacuum tube had transconductance, so the transistor would have 'transresistance.' And the name should fit in with the names of other devices, such as varistor and thermistor.  And. . . I suggested the name 'transistor.'" -- John Pierce, interview for "Transistorized!"


John Pierce

John Pierce is a scientist and a wordsmith.  He helped developed the technology that drives our communication satellites, he is a science fiction writer (under the name J.J. Coupling) -- and in 1949 he invented the name for the transistor.

Pierce began working at Bell Labs in 1937, just after finishing his grad degree at Caltech.  While Pierce never worked directly for the Shockley lab he did work in close conjunction with Shockley and his projects -- early on in vacuum tubes, and later when they were working on the transistor.  In fact, Pierce was one of the special few who first knew about the intriguing amplifier long before it was made public.

While working at Bell, Pierce designed and launched the first active communications satellite: Telstar 1.  Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke -- who is credited with first proposing satellite networks in 1945 -- has called Pierce one of the fathers of the communication satellite, saying he "designed, developed, and produced it, making real that which I and others thought only to write and dream about."

-- Kennedy Maize. "Fathers of Communication Satellite Honored."  Newsbytes News Network. October 3, 1995.
-- John Pierce, interview for "Transistorized!" 
-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson  
-- Brattain, Walter H. "Genesis of the Transistor." The Physics Teacher (March 1968, 109-114). 

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