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Today in Media History: 1947 scientific discovery leads to transistor radio news

How did most people hear radio news reports in the 1920s-1940s? Families sat in their living rooms and listened to very large receivers.

But on December 16, 1947, three scientists helped develop the transistor, and by 1954 small transistor radios were available for sale.

In the same way iPods brought us portable digital music in 2001, transistor radios allowed listeners to hear radio stations (and their news reports) wherever they went.

The first popular transistor radio, the 1954 Regency TR-1. Image from The PBS show, The “History Detectives.”

The first popular transistor radio, the 1954 Regency TR-1. Image from The PBS show, The “History Detectives.”

We can thank car transistor radios for drive-time news and NPR driveway moments. Take a look at this commercial from 1956:

The following excerpts from the television program, “Transistorized,” introduce us to the inventors of the transistor.

“Although many scientists contributed along the way, it was three men who really brought the transistor to life, and each played a different role: the thinker, the tinkerer, and the visionary. John Bardeen was the thinker, a man who could look at an event no one else comprehended and go beyond common understanding to explain it.

Walter Brattain was the tinkerer, a builder who could put together any contraption asked. William Shockley was the visionary, a seer who predicted how important the transistor would be long before anyone else. All three were top-class scientists, and their unique skills brought together in one laboratory created the perfect environment for their grand invention.”

“Shortly before Christmas, Bardeen had an historic insight. Everyone thought they knew how electrons behaved in crystals, but Bardeen discovered they were wrong. The electrons formed a barrier on the surface. His breakthrough was what they needed. Without telling Shockley about the changes they were making to the investigation, Bardeen and Brattain worked on.

On December 16, 1947, they built the point-contact transistor, made from strips of gold foil on a plastic triangle, pushed down into contact with a slab of germanium….”

“….The three men met up just a few other times in their lives, most notably in Stockholm to receive the 1956 Physics Nobel Prize for their joint invention.”

Here is the “History Detectives” TV program we mentioned earlier. In search of history…

Read more

from Poynter. http://ift.tt/1DG8bIa

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