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Invention of the Point Contact Transistor, 1954

A Fortunate Act of Frustration

Bardeen and Brattain moved steadily toward discovering the transistor effect after Bardeen, in frustration, threw an early model of the transistor into a thermos of water. He did so in order to eliminate the condensation that kept mysteriously building up on the surface of the germanium acting as the contraption's semiconductor. Though an impulsive move made in a moment of frustration, the immersion in water enabled Bardeen's model to amplify electricity more successfully than ever before.

You can read the Committee on Science and the Arts Subcommittee report on Bardeen and Brattain's finished work by clicking on the thumbnails at right.