"They'd been describing it in descriptive sentences, and a couple of really crazy ideas were put forward. But Walter wanted a meaningful and, above all, a name that fitted with things. And I provided that."
--John Pierce


Naming The Transistor

May 1948

They'd built the device, but they didn't have a name. (Point-contact solid state amplifier isn't exactly catchy.) Walter Brattain wanted something that could capture the feel of the amplifier in a single word. He asked around in the lab but no one had come up with anything. One day in May as he was walking down the hall thinking about the problem, he bumped into his friend, John Pierce

Now, Pierce had a way with words -- he would go on to become an accomplished science fiction writer -- so Brattain asked him if he had any thoughts. Thinking out loud, Pierce pointed out that just as the vacuum tube had transconductance, the new amplifier had the electrical property of transresistance. He also knew that a number of electronic devices had come out recently with names, such as varistor and thermistor. 

How about 'transistor.' he suggested? And Brattain responded: "Pierce, that's it!"

-- 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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