The Roundup: demo of the first transistor anniversary news extras

We now carry devices around in our pockets packing as many as 15 billion transistors.

First transistor

The first transistor was successfully demonstrated at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey on this day in 1947. Bell Labs, the research arm of US telecoms giant AT&T, replaced vacuum tube triode components which were much larger, quite fragile, and required much more power to operate.

A replica of the first transistor (left). Inventors John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs.

MOSFET transistors, popular today, were also invented at Bell Labs in 1959. At around the same time silicon started to take over from germanium as the key semiconductor material used.

Even before the geranium-to-silicon transition, transistors featured in computers. These now-essential electronic components first featured in a computer built at the University of Manchester in 1953. Wikipedia notes that the IBM 7070 (1958), IBM 7090 (1959), and CDC 1604 (1960) were the first computers (as products for sale) based on transistors.

The transistor inventors probably in their wildest dreams could not foretell that by 2021 consumers would be carrying pocket-sized computers (smartphones), cramming in as many as 15,300,000,000 (15.3 billion) transistors in a chip the size of a fingernail. One of the biggest chips, in terms of transistor count, available to consumers is the new Apple M1 Max (10-core, 64-bit) with 57 billion transistors.

PCs and gaming news

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