Transistor Samples

Description (Brief)
John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley at Bell Telephone Laboratories developed a revolutionary device in 1947: the transistor. Using a semiconductor like germanium, transistors could transmit or amplify electrical currents more reliably and using far less power than vacuum tubes. The Bell Telephone Company provided most of the telephone service in the U.S. at that time but worried about anti-trust regulations should they try to monopolize the transistor invention. So for a licensing fee or $25,000 any company could gain access to transistor technology. This 1948 sample case contains two germanium point-contact transistors “for experimental use only.”
Object Name
date made
ca 1948
Bell Telephone Laboratories
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
metal (overall material)
felt (overall material)
germanium (overall material)
overall: 1 in x 2 1/2 in x 2 1/4 in; 2.54 cm x 6.35 cm x 5.715 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
American Enterprise
Energy & Power
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Gordon Hull, Jr.
Sewer, Andy; Allison, David; Liebhold, Peter; Davis, Nancy; Franz, Kathleen G.. American Enterprise: A History of Business in America
Additional Media

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