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The production staff: Gary Glassman, Ira Flatow, Eliene Augenbraun and Gine Del Guercio.

Act I:
Hell's Bells Laboratory

Act II:
Miracle Month

Act III:
Intrigue and Glory

Act IV:
Smaller, Cheaper, Faster






Smaller, Cheaper, Faster

Shockley Trouble




-- Music --

VO: Shockley’s celebration was short-lived. Returning to California, he found Shockley Semiconductor in trouble. The company was bleeding money. And history was repeating itself: his prize team of scientists was in revolt.

Harry Sello

Physical Chemist

Shockley Semiconductor Lab

Sello: Shockley had in mind a particular device he wanted to have the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory work on. And the darn thing just wouldn’t turn out to be reliable or economically enough to do the job. But that was Shockley’s idea. It was his pet, pet device. And he wouldn’t let anybody else work on anything else.

Joel Shurkin


Broken Genius

Shurkin: He did not want to hap . . . happen in his company what happened at Bell Labs. In other words, two guys going off and doing something monumental. He wanted to make sure. . . that if anything happened monumental, he was going to be the one who was gonna do it.

VO: After just a year and a half of work, eight of Shockley’s best and brightest left, to become known in Silicon Valley lore as the Traitorous Eight. They formed their own transistor company-- Fairchild Semiconductor.


Gordon Moore



Moore: When we started Fairchild, we had, ah, no really good idea where we were going, ah, other than we wanted to make a silicon transistor.

The Chip


VO: Fairchild and Texas Instruments saw a way of connecting transistors without wires or solder and putting four or more on a single piece of silicon. They called the invention the integrated circuit.


Moore: And Fairchild came out with the first integrated circuit sold commercially in 1961. That was really a major change in the direction of the whole industry. And, ah, those of you who use your PCs today are the distant beneficiary of that original idea of making a complex circuit in one block of silicon.


VO: Shockley hired a new crop of scientists, but he could not replace the one person most responsible for the companies problems: himself.


Shurkin: If Shockley had been a better manager, he’d be one of the richest people in the world today. He would have been the match for Bill Gates. He is the father of Silicon Valley. He knew better than anybody in the world the importance of these machines . . . ah these transistors. He knew that he was revolutionizing the world. He knew that if his company could control the direction the transistor should go toward, that he would be very rich.

Ira Standup At Intel

Ira Standup: Bill Shockley never did get rich, but two of the Traitorous Eight did. Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce eventually left Fairchild Semiconductor to form a little company, called Intel, which today is worth billions.

Intel makes these–silicon wafers. Each one of these little squares is actually a computer chip, the kind you find in your PC. Each square contains four million transistors. So this wafer has about a billion transistors on it. And Intel turns these out by the thousands each day. Many of them are made right here.

(zoom into Intel window)

Intel Bunny Suit Ad

Intel Bunny Suit Ad








VO: Like their ancestor the transistor... the computer chip has invaded every corner of life, so much so that they have become pop icons. And while people know that chips live inside computers, most don’t know of the millions of transistors hidden inside each chip.

VO: Billions of transistors are now churned out daily by Intel, Motorola, IBM and other high-tech companies. More transistors are made each year than raindrops fall on California.





Insert AT&T photo

VO: Ironically, neither Brattain, nor Bardeen nor Shockley ever made much money from the transistor.

Bell Labs policy required them to hand over their patent rights… for one dollar. And AT&T didn’t make much money on it either. It gave up the patent rights as part of its attempt to fend off federal antitrust suits.

Insert video of 25th anniversary


Drop announcer

VO: In 1972, Bill Shockley, Walter Brattain and John Bardeen returned to Bell Labs for the 25th anniversary of the invention of the transistor.


Bardeen: We knew we were on to something very important, and that transistors would have many applications.


Brattain: When I was a young man, one considered the only way to save the world was to make everyone literate, so that everyone knew how to read and write. But now that the natives in all lands can have a cheap battery operated transistor radio that they can turn on at night in their camp and listen to any broadcast in their own language, whether they know how to read or write or not.


Shockley: We were looking for transistors at the same time that we were paying attention to those things that prevent the first field effect form from working.


VO: Bell Labs asked them to recreate their famous photograph. Letting bygones be bygones, Brattain and Bardeen agreed.

archival photos







VO: Walter Brattain retired from Bell Labs in 1967. His only regret was that his invention helped stimulate Rock and Roll. . He returned home to Washington state and taught college physics. He died in 1987.

VO: John Bardeen won a second Nobel Prize in 1972 for his work on superconductivity. He was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in physics. John Bardeen died in 1991.

Newspaper articles about Shockley and racism.

Shockley headlines

VO: Bill Shockley became a professor at Stanford University. He again made headlines in the 70s and 80s for his controversial theories on race and IQ. Bill Shockley died in 1989.

New Conference Standup

Ira driving down road in Silicon Valley



Cutaway to signs



He looks over his shoulder and zooms off.

Ira Standup: Our story ends here in Silicon Valley 3,000 miles and decades away from where we began. Apricots used to flourish here before transistors. And today, this is the place of big dreams and even bigger egos.

Ira Standup: And who knows, perhaps inside one of these plush corporate campuses, some young scientist or engineer is perfecting the next device that will even make the transistor obsolete and revolutionize the world in ways that even we cannot imagine

  Music: "Hell’s Bells Laboratory"


Web Site On-Air Announcement (15 sec) (deleted from International version)

Book Offer Window (15 sec) (deleted from International version)

Funder Sequence (15 sec) (deleted from International version)

Dip to Black

Production Credits (43 sec)

ScienCentral Logo (3 sec)

KTCA Logo (3 sec)

Act I: Hell's Bells Laboratory

Act II: Mircale Month

Act III: Intrigue and Glory

Act IV: Smaller, Cheaper, Faster

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