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Invention of the Point Contact Transistor, 1954

The War Effort

World War II spurned many of the efforts into electronic and communications research in the United States. Both Bardeen and Brattain worked to further war-related research projects. Brattain worked for twenty-two months on the magnetic detection of submarines, while Bardeen devoted four years to working for the Naval Ordinance Laboratory (NOL) on numerous classified projects. Bardeen would observe in 1945, "The armed services have control of scientific talent in this country." He left the NOL to pursue research on semiconductors, indicating to his NOL colleagues that this research would ultimately benefit the U.S. in the area of communications technology, a field in which Germany and Russia were emerging as competitors. Semiconductors play a key role in radio and radar, and thus their advancement stood to sophisticate U.S. military devices.

In keeping with Bardeen's thinking, The Franklin Institute Final Report on the work of Bardeen and Brattain on the transistor states, "The last decade has seen a growing concern with the properties of the semi-conductors and the development of many devices which use these materials." You can read the full text of this report by clicking on the thumbnails at right.