Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age (Sloan Technology Series)

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9780393318517: Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age (Sloan Technology Series)

"Without the invention of the transistor, I'm quite sure that the PC would not exist as we know it today."―Bill Gates

On December 16, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, physicists at Bell Laboratories, jabbed two electrodes into a sliver of germanium. The power flowing from the germanium far exceeded what went in; in that moment the transistor was invented and the Information Age was born. No other devices have been as crucial to modern life as the transistor and the microchip it spawned, but the story of the science and personalities that made these inventions possible has not been fully told until now. Crystal Fire fills this gap and carries the story forward. William Shockley, Bell Labs' team leader and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize with Brattain and Bardeen for the discovery, grew obsessed with the transistor and went on to become the father of Silicon Valley. Here is a deeply human story about the process of invention ― including the competition and economic aspirations involved ― all part of the greatest technological explosion in history. The intriguing history of the transistor ― its inventors, physics, and stunning impact on society and the economy ― unfolds here in a richly told tale."―Science News "Thoroughly accessible to lay readers as well as the techno-savvy. . . . [A] fine book."―Publishers Weekly Illustrated

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Review:

The microchip at the heart of your computer is a complex device, but its historical origins go back to one crude-looking little gadget made up of a wedge of plastic, a strip of gold foil, a rough-hewn slab of crystallized germanium, some wires, and a bent-up paper clip. Slapped together by two Bell Labs experimenters on December 16, 1947, this invention later came to be known as the transistor, and it is the ancestor of every microchip in operation today.

Crystal Fire tells the story of the creation and development of that gadget, demonstrating that very little about the transistor's invention was as simple it seemed. The device put together on that December day was no idle experiment, but the product of decades of high-level research--and the first major practical application of the esoteric quantum mechanics that had emerged from European particle physics at the beginning of the century.

Just as fascinating as the scientific background, though, is the story of the brains and events behind the invention of the transistor. The collaboration and rivalry of the three men credited with the invention--the brilliant John Bardeen, the likable Walter Brattain, and the appallingly driven William Shockley--hold center stage. However, authors Riordan and Hoddeson make it clear that the unique organizational resources of Bell Labs, the furious course of the war effort, and the random twists and turns of historical accident played equally important roles. The saga makes for a gripping read and a crash course in the dizzying complexity of information-age invention. --Julian Dibbell

About the Author:

Stanford University physicist Michael Riordan has written several popular books on science and technology. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Lillian Hoddeson is an historian at the University of Illinois and lives in Urbana. Research for Crystal Fire was sponsored by the Sloan Foundation.

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Hoddeson, Lillian, Riordan, Michael
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Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson
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Descripción WW Norton Co, United States, 1998. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. 2nd Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. On December 16, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, physicists at Bell Laboratories, jabbed two electrodes into a sliver of germanium. The power flowing from the germanium far exceeded what went in; in that moment the transistor was invented and the Information Age was born. No other devices have been as crucial to modern life as the transistor and the microchip it spawned, but the story of the science and personalities that made these inventions possible has not been fully told until now. Crystal Fire fills this gap and carries the story forward. William Shockley, Bell Labs team leader and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize with Brattain and Bardeen for the discovery, grew obsessed with the transistor and went on to become the father of Silicon Valley. Here is a deeply human story about the process of invention - including the competition and economic aspirations involved - all part of the greatest technological explosion in history. The intriguing history of the transistor - its inventors, physics, and stunning impact on society and the economy - unfolds here in a richly told tale. -Science News Thoroughly accessible to lay readers as well as the techno-savvy.[A] fine book. -Publishers Weekly. Nº de ref. de la librería AAH9780393318517

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Michael Riordan; Lillian Hoddeson
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Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson
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Descripción WW Norton Co, United States, 1999. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. 2nd Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. On December 16, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, physicists at Bell Laboratories, jabbed two electrodes into a sliver of germanium. The power flowing from the germanium far exceeded what went in; in that moment the transistor was invented and the Information Age was born. No other devices have been as crucial to modern life as the transistor and the microchip it spawned, but the story of the science and personalities that made these inventions possible has not been fully told until now. Crystal Fire fills this gap and carries the story forward. William Shockley, Bell Labs team leader and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize with Brattain and Bardeen for the discovery, grew obsessed with the transistor and went on to become the father of Silicon Valley. Here is a deeply human story about the process of invention - including the competition and economic aspirations involved - all part of the greatest technological explosion in history. The intriguing history of the transistor - its inventors, physics, and stunning impact on society and the economy - unfolds here in a richly told tale. -Science News Thoroughly accessible to lay readers as well as the techno-savvy.[A] fine book. -Publishers Weekly. Nº de ref. de la librería AAH9780393318517

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