About the PBS Documentary .About the PBS Documentary The transistor is one of the 20th century’s

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  • About the PBS DocumentaryThe transistor is one of the 20th centurys mostimportant inventions. It revolutionized technologyand launched the Information Age. Its creation is adramatic story of top secret research, serendipitousaccidents, collaborative genius and clashing egos.Transistorized!, the one hour documentary airing onPBS, tells the compelling story of the history of thetransistor and the scientists who discovered it. Theyinclude William Shockley, who assembled the teamat Bell Labs that built the first working transistors,but whose driving ego ultimately ended theircollaboration; John Bardeen, a theoretical geniuswhose profound insights paved the way to the finaldiscovery; and Walter Brattain, whose persistenttinkering led to the breakthrough that resulted inthe first transistor.

    Host Ira Flatow leads us through a vivid andentertaining tour of the key moments in the history

    of the transistor from the scientificbreakthroughs early in the 20th century thatset the stage for the invention, through thefrustrations and serendipitous accidents thatmade the first transistor work, to theevolution of the first transistorized productsand the birth of Silicon Valley. All inextricablyinterwoven with the tale of the brilliantcollaboration and dramatic demise of theteam that made the transistor possible.

    These educational materials are made possible by a grant from The LucentTechnologies Foundation.

    The PBS documentary Transistorized! is a co-production of KTCA-TV and ScienCentral,Inc., and is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 1999, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. and ScienCentral, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    Host Ira Flatow takes viewersback in time to recapture the

    excitement and dramabehind the invention thatchanged the world thetransistor in the PBS

    program Transistorized!

    Transistorized!will be broadcast

    nationally on PBS

    Monday, November 8,

    1999 at 10pm ET.(Check local listings for the broadcast

    times in your location.)To learn more about the transistor visit www.pbs.org/transistor.

    To order additional copies of the guide (while supplies last) e-mailtransistorized@ktca.org.

  • Science Content Standards LessonsGrades 912 1 2 3 4Unifying Concepts and Processes

    Systems, order, and organization Evidence, models, and explanation Change, constancy, and measurement Form and function

    Science as InquiryAbilities necessary to do scientific inquiry Understandings about scientific inquiry

    Physical ScienceStructure and properties of matter Motions and forces Conservation of energy and increase in disorder Interactions of energy and matter

    Science and TechnologyAbilities of technological design Understandings about science and technology

    Science in Personal and Social PerspectivesScience and technology in local, national, and global challenges

    History and Nature of ScienceScience as a human endeavor Nature of scientific knowledge Historical perspectives

    Transistorized! is a co-production of KTCA-TV and ScienCentral, Inc. These educational materials are made possible by To order the video call PBS Learning Media at 1-800-344-3337 a grant from The Lucent Technologies Foundation.

    Table of ContentsLesson 1:The Story of the Transistor . . . . . . . . 2Students view the video Transistorized! anddiscuss key factors that led to the invention ofthe transistor.

    Lesson 2:Scientists at Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4Students select an electronic invention andresearch who and what contributed to it.

    Lesson 3:Transistors in Your Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6Students hunt for transistor-based devices andexplain how the transistor affects their lives.

    Lesson 4:Using Transistors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8Students build circuits to see how transistorsfunction as switches or amplifiers.

    Profiles of Scientists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

    01:0018:00 (18 min)

    Hells Bells LaboratoryThe birth of Bell Labs and early advances inelectronics.

    18:0030:00 (12 min)

    Miracle MonthIntense research at Bell Labs leads to the firstworking transistor.

    30:0048:00 (18 min)

    Glory & IntrigueAdvances produce the first transistor radios, but theteam of inventors breaks apart.

    48:0055:00 (7 min)

    Smaller, Cheaper, FasterThe integrated circuit and the Information Age.

    Act IV

    Act III

    Act II

    Act I

    Transistorized! Video Index

    Correlations of Transistorized! Lessons to National Science Education Standards

    Ira Flatow with areplica of the first


    We e n c o u r a ge d u p l i c a t i o n fo r e d u c a t i o n a l n o n - c o m m e r c i a l u s e.

    T I M E R / C O U N T E R

  • BackgroundBell Laboratories, one of the worlds largest industriallaboratories and now part of Lucent Technologies, wasoriginally the research and development arm of the gianttelephone company American Telephone and Telegraph(AT&T). One of the first pioneering advances of Bell Labsin the early 1900s was a practical version of the vacuumtube. This device amplified faint telephone signals andwas the key to Americas coast-to-coast telephone system.

    It also worked as a high speedon-off switch. Over the next threedecades, vacuum tubes were pressed intoservice for everything from home radios tomilitary radar. Even the first electroniccomputer relied on vacuum tubesabout18,000 of them!

    But as the uses for vacuum tubesincreased, so did the frustration at theirlimitations. Vacuum tubes were big andclumsy. They used a lot of power, theygenerated large amounts of heat, and theywere fragile. Clearly, a better device wasneeded. New advances in theoretical physicsand quantum mechanics suggested that a class

    of materials called semiconductorsmaterials like silicon or germaniumthat normally are very poor conductors of electricitymight, under theright conditions, be able to replace the vacuum tube.

    At Bell Labs, a young, brilliant theoretician, Bill Shockley, was selectedto lead a team researching the potential of semiconductor materials.Shockley drafted Walter Brattain, an experimental physicist who could buildor fix just about anything, and hiredtheoretical physicist, John Bardeen.Shockley filled out his team with aneclectic mix of physicists, chemists, andengineers, and they set to work to create asemiconductor amplifier.

    In 1945 Shockley proposed an amplifierdesign in which an electric field wouldenhance the flow of electrons near thesurface of a layer of silicon. His colleaguestried several versions of this field effectamplifier but without success. He assigned Bardeen and Brattain to find outwhy the idea didnt work. It was a productive partnershipBardeen, thetheoretician, suggested experiments and interpreted the results, whileBrattain built and ran the experiments. For two years, they did countless tests

    The transistor wasprobably the mostimportant invention ofthe 20th century, and thestory behind theinvention is one ofclashing egos and topsecret research. . . .

    Ira Flatow,Transistorized!

    LESSON 1

    EngageInvite students to think ofexamples of devices that havebecome smaller and morecompact over the years.(almost any portable electronicdevice such as radios, tapeplayers, CD players, computers,and medical devices such aspacemakers and hearing aids)Ask students to speculate aboutwhat kinds of breakthroughsmade the smaller devicespossible.

    ExplorePlay the video Transistorized!.As students watch, tell them tomake a list of key factors thathelped the Bell Labs scientistsinvent the transistor. If timedoes not permit playing theentire program, play Act IIMiracle Month, whichchronicles the invention itselfin 194748.

    EvaluateDiscuss the key factors thatstudents listed during thevideo. Do those items refer toscientific discoveries only? Howimportant were the personalcharacteristics of the scientistsin the invention of thetransistor? Ask students todescribe at least two instancesfrom the video in which thework of one researcherdepended upon the work ofanother. What is serendipityand how did it play a role inthe process of inventing thetransistor? What scientificconcepts played an importantpart in the design of thetransistor?

    The Story of the TransistorThe Story of the Transistor

    Transistorized! is a co-production of KTCA-TV and ScienCentral, Inc. These educational materials are made possible by To order the video call PBS Learning Media at 1-800-344-3337 a grant from The Lucent Technologies Foundation.

    We e n c o u r a ge d u p l i c a t i o n fo r e d u c a t i o n a l n o n - c o m m e r c i a l u s e.

  • ResourcesBooksRiordan, Michael and Lillian

    Hoddeson. Crystal Fire: TheInvention of the Transistor andthe Birth of the InformationAge. New York: W. W. Nortonand Company, 1997.

    Articles Brattain, Walter H. Genesis of the

    Transistor. The Physics Teacher.(March, 1968) pp. 109-114.

    Hoddeson, Lillian. The Roots ofSolid State Research at BellLabs. Physics Today. (March,1997).

    Holonyak, Jr., Nick.John Bardeenand the Point-ContactTransistor. Physics Today.(April, 1992).

    Shockley, William. How WeInvented the Transistor. NewScientist 21. (December, 1972)pp. 689-91.

    Web siteshttp://www.pbs.org/transistor

    Explores the history andtechnology of the transistor andthe people involved in itsinvention. Also includesinformation about the making ofthe Transistorized! documentary.


    Includes an historical overviewof the transistor, how it works,and its current uses.


    Explores the history of physicsand includes links to other fieldsof science.

    on different samples