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Science/Medicine : A Transistorized Birthday for Space-Age Electronics

December 21, 1987

It was 40 years ago this week that AT&T's Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., introduced the transistor--a tiny, reliable and relatively inexpensive substitute for the bulky, fragile vacuum tube. The announcement ushered in the "solid-state" revolution, spawning the semiconductor industry and making possible dramatic changes in communications, computers and other fields.

For their achievement, physicists William Shockley, Walter H. Brattain and John Bardeen, (left to right above) were awarded the Nobel Prize. At right, the first transistor and the current state of the art--a silicon-based integrated circuit in a ceramic pin grid that contains the equivalent of 72,000 transistors.

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