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The Birth of the Information Age
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"Without the invention of the transistor, I'm quite sure that the PC would not exist as we know it today." Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft Corporation. On December 16, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, physicists at Bell Laboratories, jabbed two electrodes into a sliver of germanium half an inch long. The electrical power coming out of that piece of germanium was 100 times stronger than what went in. In that moment the transistor was invented and the Information Age began. Crystal Fire recounts the story of the transistor team at Bell Labs headed up by William Shockley, who shared the Nobel Prize with Bardeen and Brattain. While his colleagues went on to other research, Shockley grew increasingly obsessed with the new gadget. Eventually he formed his own firm, the first semiconductor company in what would become Silicon Valley. Above all, Crystal Fire is a tale of the human factors in technology; the pride and jealousies coupled with scientific and economic aspiration that led to the creation of modern microelectronics and ignited the greatest technological explosion in history.
©1997 Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks