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Invention of the Point Contact Transistor, 1954

The Shockley Controversy

The exact nature of Shockley's contributions to the development of the transistor remains a subject of controversy, as does the question of how much (if any) credit he should be given for its invention. What is clear is that Shockley's invention of the Joint Transistor and other of his subsequent achievements overshadowed the work of Bardeen and Brattain, and his name and his work hold a more prominent place in history. Shockley's treatment of Bardeen and Brattain eventually prompted both men to break away from Bell Labs, and severed any good relations between himself and his former colleagues.

Despite the differing opinions on the subject, Bardeen and Brattain are widely credited with the invention of the Point Contact Transistor, and even if their names are not as well-remembered as Shockley's, their work significantly contributed to the improvement of the field of communications.

In a letter to Dr. John Frazer of The Franklin Institute, Awards Committee Member C. B. Bazzoni stated his opinion that, "the award should be specifically limited to the Point Contact Transistor since the Junction type seems to have been developed by Shockley, to whom a medal covering this development was recently awarded by the I.R.E." You can read the full text of this letter by clicking on the thumbnail at right.