Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


 "We realized that if this thing was as big as we thought, we couldn't keep it to ourselves and we couldn't make all the technical contributions.  It was in our interest to spread it around.  If you cast your bread on the water, sometimes it comes back angel food cake." -- Jack Morton, as interviewed in "The Improbable Years," Electronics (19 February 1968) p. 51

<- 7 ->


Sharing the Technology: Bell Hosts Transistor Symposia


Bell Labs had an important realization: development of the transistor was going to move a lot more quickly if they opened up the field to other companies.  So in September 1951, Bell Labs hosted a symposium to spread the gospel about what the transistor could do. 

Attending the conference were some 300 scientists and engineers.  The attendees all went home to their respective companies with a great sense of what the transistor could do -- but little idea of how to build one.  For that knowledge, Bell announced, a company would have to pay a licensing fee of $25,000.  Twenty-six companies, from both the US and abroad, signed up for the privilege.  The companies were both big, such as IBM and General Electric, and small, such as then-unknowns like Texas Instruments. 

Over one hundred registrants from the select companies returned for the Transistor Technology Symposium  in April of 1952.  For eight days Bell Labs worked the attendees day and night -- but at the end, they were equipped to go off and build transistors for themselves.  

Bell took all the information from the meeting and bound it into a two volume book set called "Transistor Technology."  The book became fondly known as "Mother Bell's Cookbook." 

-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson  
-- "The Improbable Years," Electronics (19 February 1968) 
-- "They Had Eight Days to Learn About Transistors"

< PREVIOUS Quicktour Page < -- > NEXT Quicktour Page >

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.