John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley won the 1956 Nobel
Prize for physics for their work on the transistor, the basic building
block of today's radios, televisions, computers and other electronic
Learn about the complete history
of the transistor.
- Ira Flatow, Transistorized! on PBS
Physicist, born in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He studied electrical engineering
at Wisconsin University, and mathematical physics at Princeton (1936).
After World War 2, he joined a new solid-state physics group at Bell
Telephone Laboratories, where with Walter Brattain and William Shockley
he developed the point-contact transistor (1947), for which they shared
the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956. Professor at Illinois University
(195175), with Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer he received the
Nobel Prize for Physics again in 1972 for the first satisfactory theory
of superconductivity (the BardeenCooperSchrieffer or BCS
theory), thereby becoming the first person to receive the Nobel Prize
for Physics twice.
Brattain, Walter H(ouser)
US physicist, born in Amoy, China, where his father was a teacher. He
grew up on a cattle ranch in the State of Washington, and studied at
the universities of Oregon and Minnesota. In 1929 he joined Bell Telephone
Laboratories, where he worked as a research physicist on the surface
properties of semiconductors. With Bardeen and Shockley he developed
the point-contact transistor, using a thin germanium crystal. He shared
the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956.
Shockley, William B(radford)
Physicist, born in London, England, UK. He studied at the California
Institute of Technology and Harvard, began work with Bell Telephone
Laboratories in 1936, and became professor of engineering at Stanford
in 1963. During World War 2 he directed US research on antisubmarine
warfare. In 1947 he helped devise the point-contact transistor. He then
devised the junction transistor, which heralded a revolution in radio,
TV, and computer circuitry. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in
1956 with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. In his later years Shockley
provoked outrage with his racist comments and sterilization schemes
for people of low IQ.