QST, October, 1948, page 48:
The "Transistor" -- an Amplifying Crystal
THERE was a time in the early days of radio when the "oscillating crystal" could be catalogued with sky hooks, left-handed monkey wrenches and striped paint, because no one knew how to amplify a signal with a galena, silicon or other crystal. All this is changed by the recent Bell Telephone Laboratories' announcement of the "Transistor," a small germanium-crystal unit that can amplify signals, and hence be made to oscillate.
Housed in a small metal tube less than one inch long and less than a quarter inch in diameter, the Transistor has no filament, no vacuum and no glass envelope, and is made up only of cold solid substances. Two "catwhisker"-point contacts are made to a surface of the small germanium crystal, spaced approximately 0.002 inch apart.
The Transistor shown is connected as an amplifier in the accompanying sketch. The contact on the input side is called the "emitter" and the output contact is called the "collector" by the Bell Labs. A small positive bias of less than one volt is required on the emitter, and the output circuit consists of a negative bias of 20 to 30 volts and a suitable load. The input impedance is low (100 ohms or so), and the output impedance runs around 10,000 ohms.
In operation, a small static current flows in both input and output circuit. A small current change in the emitter circuit causes a current change of about the same magnitude in the collector circuit. However, since the collector (output) circuit is a much higher-impedance circuit, a power gain is realized. Measuring this gain shows it to be on the order of 100, or 20 db., up through the television video range (5 Mc. or so). The present upper-frequency limit is said to be around 10 Mc., where transit-time effects limit the operation.
The Bell Labs have demonstrated complete broadcast-range superhet receivers using only Transistors for oscillator and amplifier functions (with a 1N34 second detector and selenium power rectifiers). An audio output of 25 milliwatts was obtained by using two Transistors in a push-pull connection. However, it seems likely that in the near future Transistors will find their maximum application in telephone amplifiers and large scale computers, although their small size and zero warm-up time may make them very useful in hearing aids and other compact amplifiers.
It doesn't appear that there will be much use made of Transistors in amateur work, unless it is in portable and/or compact audio amplifiers. The noise figure is said to be poor, compared to that obtainable with vacuum tubes, and this fact may limit the usefulness in some amateur applications. These clever little devices are well worth keeping an eye on.--B.G.