Tuesday, May 06, 2008

RIP: Morgan Sparks, transistor inventor

From Boing Boing: Sandia National Laboratories reports the death of former Sandia Labs Director Morgan Sparks. He's best known as the Bell Labs researcher who invented the first practical transistor. Without transistors, one cannot begin to imagine personal computers, cell phones, DVD players and the many other electronic devices we rely on daily. He was 91.

read more here

(Previous to the vastly smaller transistor, the only device that could perform the same basic operations were the vacuum tube. Tubes were much larger, hotter and required much more power to operate. The first digital computer was based on the vacuum tube. It had a paltry 4 kilobytes of memory, not megabytes but a thousand times less. It filled almost one whole floor of a high rise at a speed that would be considered glacial by today's standards. pac)

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