July 10, 2012

Father of Silicon Valley: Shockley or Terman?

My new column in Taki's Magazine:
With Silicon Valley back on top of the world, it’s time to point out a bit of unwelcome history.  
There are two competing narratives about the technology hub’s origins: 
• The famous tale of how William Shockley’s obnoxious management style spun off start-up silicon chipmakers such as Intel; 
• The less-familiar version centering on Stanford professor Frederick Terman and Hewlett-Packard.  
What has almost never been pointed out, however, is that the two rivals for the title of Father of Silicon Valley, Shockley and Terman, had common roots in early 20th century Palo Alto’s scientific and ideological consensus, a now extremely unfashionable worldview that has been driven underground but remains fundamental to how Silicon Valley actually succeeds in the 21st century.

Isn't the name "Terman" familiar for something else?

Read the whole thing there.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite pictures of Silicon Valley:

http://centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/Airships_in_WWII/LTA10G4.htm

Makes you realize that it wasn't just something in the water, or something that was always there, but it was something that happened and something that people made happen. Also, foretells the high-tech industry, which becomes clearer the more you learn about the background to this pic. Ties into your thesis.

beowulf said...

I've sometimes wondered if Shockley was handed the transistor by Uncle Sam after the Army vacuumed up the contents of the Germany's patent office and research labs.

"One Washington official has called it "the greatest single source of this type of material in the world, the first orderly exploitation of an entire country's brain-power.""
http://www.wanttoknow.info/war/4610_secret_nazi_war_technology

wren said...

Another little tidbit is the probablility that Jordan had Jane Stanford murdered in Hawaii because he disagreed with her politics, or something like that. She would have likely taken things in a very different direction.

Florida resident said...

Duplicated from comments to "Taki" article:

Lee de Forest has invented "audion": _amplifying_ vacuum tube, with the 3-rd electrode, the grid. It was situated between hot cathode (emitting electrons) and cold anode (accepting electrons). Negative (with respect to cathode) voltage on the grid could repell electrons, thus somewhat suppressing the current from cathode to anode: weak grid voltage controlling large current.

The hotter is the cathode, the larger is the emission current, and thus the stronger is the amplified signal.

Unfortunately, the first Navy radio devices had manual control of cathode-heating voltage. Low-educated radio-operators observed the increase of signal at elevated cathode heating, and (subconciously) cranked cathode-heating voltage to the maximum, thus often burning the tube out.
As a result, Navy deemed "Audion" tubes unreliable, and it took time to rectify the situation.

Thank you for remembering Lee de Forest, dear Mr. Sailer !
Your F.r.

dearieme said...

A few years ago I looked up Shockley on WKPD. Shokku! It had quite a complaint that the transistor had been patented years earlier in Canada, that the Bell Labs group knew all about that work, and deliberately suppressed all reference to it in their publications and (if my memory is right; not guaranteed) in their own patent filings.

I checked yesterday: most of that complaint has vanished. Maybe it was wrong or exaggerated, or maybe its fault was that it was all too accurate. I don't know, but there's nothing in Shockley's history to suggest that he'd find such behaviour improper. How's that for masterly understatement? Put more bluntly, Shockley was a shit - the sort of shit who would probably be working in finance nowadays. How fortunate that his shittiness was allied to his abilities for a more useful purpose back then.

bjdubbs said...

I thought this was going in the direction of a "cut throat" business culture vs. "the H-P way" culture, and that SV succeeded because it was a hybrid of both or more H-P. The blog linked in the post refers to SV's "pay it forward" culture.

http://steveblank.com/2011/09/15/the-pay-it-forward-culture/

So I'll go in that direction: maybe it was the combination of high smarts (via the aerospace industry) plus the cooperative midwestern ethos that resulted in the uniquely successful SV hybrid.

All of the US declinism and China envy forgets that the Chinese stock market is still 99% fraudulent.

Bostonian said...

The 2004 book "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers" by William Poundstone also mentions the IQ / Silicon Valley connection. Chapter 2, comprising 27 pages, is titled "The Termans and Silicon Valley".

FredR said...

That Jane Stanford bit wren mentions should have been included. What a crazy piece of history.

Anonymous said...

Great article. This is the most interesting material from Steve in a while. Please, more like this and more movie reviews.

Anonymous said...

"I've sometimes wondered if Shockley was handed the transistor by Uncle Sam after the Army vacuumed up the contents of the Germany's patent office and research labs."

No need to go that far. Transistor was first patented in US in the 1920s (by Julius Lilienfeld). Shockley and his team were aware of this patent.

Anonymous said...

beowulf:"I've sometimes wondered if Shockley was handed the transistor by Uncle Sam after the Army vacuumed up the contents of the Germany's patent office and research labs."

Stop wondering. The answer is no. Also, the Nazis did not have access to UFO* technology.

wanttoknow:"How was this possible? With similar financial resources and brain power to that of the allies, how did they make such huge leaps in technology in such a short span of time? It doesn't really make sense unless you consider the possibility that they might have had access to technology from some advanced civilization. Could they have recovered one or more crashed UFOs and back engineered the technology? Sound far fetched? Can you come up with a better explanation?"

Syon

Anonymous said...

A minor correction: HP was founded to produce oscillators, not oscilloscopes. HP later produced many high-performance oscilloscopes.

Anonymous said...

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2012/07/11/romney_to_naacp_voting_gop_good_for_your_families/?camp=fb

Anonymous said...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/07/11/obama_holds_slim_lead_over_romney_in_national_poll.html

Romney cant energize the base.

Anonymous said...

My daughter attends the Terman Middle School in Palo Alto. If the Termans were alive today they would not be surprised that the student body is disproportionately Chinese and Jewish.

pat said...

I interviewed Schockley once. He was a real ass****. Totally.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

OT: Whiskey bait

'Cannibal' Luka Magnotta Attracts Obsessed Female Fans

http://abcnews.go.com/International/cannibal-luka-magnotta-attracts-obsessed-female-fans/story?id=16749690

"Luka Magnotta is a strange obsession for teenage girls and young women. He's a onetime porn actor accused of murdering his gay lover, dismembering the man's corpse, tasting it and mailing his body parts to schools and government offices in Canada.

Magnotta, 29, boyishly fresh faced and currently awaiting trial in a Montreal jail cell, has found a legion of fans and supporters online. Many of his fans are female and most are willing to look past the gruesome crimes for which he is accused.

"I spend nearly half the day reading, thinking, or writing about him," a fan using the Facebook handle Luka Magnotta Supporter, but who identified herself as an 18-year-old student from the U.K. named Soph, told ABC News. "I worry for him, so I always have to keep myself updated about him. I've started having dreams about him. He is a beautiful man, but it isn't that. I'm attracted with who is inside of him. I'll support him no matter what."

Dozens of websites, hosting hundreds of supporters, have popped up online in the weeks since Magnotta was arrested in Germany on June 4. Police believe he is seen in a Web video hacking a man to pieces and putting knife and fork to his flesh."

Anonymous said...

He is a beautiful man, but it isn't that. I'm attracted with who is inside of him

We know who is inside of him - an unfortunate Chinese bloke.

Anonymous said...

dearieme:"A few years ago I looked up Shockley on WKPD. Shokku! It had quite a complaint that the transistor had been patented years earlier in Canada, that the Bell Labs group knew all about that work, and deliberately suppressed all reference to it in their publications and (if my memory is right; not guaranteed) in their own patent filings.

I checked yesterday: most of that complaint has vanished. Maybe it was wrong or exaggerated, or maybe its fault was that it was all too accurate. I don't know, but there's nothing in Shockley's history to suggest that he'd find such behaviour improper. How's that for masterly understatement? Put more bluntly, Shockley was a shit - the sort of shit who would probably be working in finance nowadays. How fortunate that his shittiness was allied to his abilities for a more useful purpose back then."

"Maybe it was wrong or exaggerated,"


It was exaggerated.

Syon

Sam said...

Terman's father tracked the elite of the elite of California's public schools.

Unfrontunately, his team didn't track two Nobel Prize winners,
Shockley and Luis Alvarez. Their IQs were not high enough.

Where do u set the cutoff point for sterilization?

Anonymous said...

Where do u set the cutoff point for sterilization?

I would set it well below the average. Its safe to say that Shockley & Alvarez were still way above average.

No one suggested sterilization, that was you, the idea was encourage the least bright to have less children.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, but there's nothing in Shockley's history to suggest that he'd find such behaviour improper. How's that for masterly understatement? Put more bluntly, Shockley was a shit - the sort of shit who would probably be working in finance nowadays. How fortunate that his shittiness was allied to his abilities for a more useful purpose back then.

Walter Brattain and John Bardeen are credited as co-inventors of the transistor along with Shockley.

Shockley was accused by Bardeen, in a speech given at Altgeld Hall of the University of Illinois, of having attempted to suppress the work Bardeen and Brattain had been doing to the point that they had to put their work on a roller cart to put it in a closet during the day and roll it out at night. In 1978 Bardeen thought he might be dying and decided to put on a rather short-notice lecture recapping his life.

DaveinHackensack said...

Speaking of race and Silicon Valley, I wonder if there is a racial component to the embrace of Uber by techies. This is an alternative taxi service that is more expensive than regular taxis and arguably less convenient (what could be more convenient than sticking your hand up in the air?). And yet if you check Twitter, you'll see techies in SF, NYC, and elsewhere enthuse about Uber. I wonder if the demographics of Uber drivers differ from NYC or SF taxi drivers.

Steve Sailer said...

Shockley's attempt to get credit for the work of his underlings Bardeen and Brattain failed. But he had a Plan B: invent a better mousetrap, which he did (a new kind of transistor which was easier to manufacture than the one invented by Bardeen and Brattain). That's why the three men shared the 1956 Nobel, even though didn't B&B didn't like S. And that seems fair, although undoubtedly there were others who would have deserved inclusion if the Nobel didn't have a maximum of three names in one year.

Anonymous said...

Shockley's attempt to get credit for the work of his underlings Bardeen and Brattain failed. But he had a Plan B: invent a better mousetrap, which he did (a new kind of transistor which was easier to manufacture than the one invented by Bardeen and Brattain). That's why the three men shared the 1956 Nobel, even though didn't B&B didn't like S. And that seems fair, although undoubtedly there were others who would have deserved inclusion if the Nobel didn't have a maximum of three names in one year.

He still seems like a dick though. He tried to suppress their work. And then got famous for improving on something that he tried to prevent from being developed.

Anonymous said...

Title IX coming to STEM:

"White House expands Title IX support to science, tech"

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/usa-whitehouse-titleix-idINL1E8HKJNC20120620

NOTA said...

dearime:

Indeed, I'd say one big thing that determines how successful a civilization will be is how well it uses super aggressive, ambitious, hard-working, smart assholes, like Shockley or Edison or Gates, to make the pie bigger in the process of helping themselves to a really huge slice of it. My not-too-informed impression is that the super aggressive, ambitious, hard-working, smart assholes in finance are much more engaged in making the pie smaller while helping themselves to that big slice they know they're entitled to.

Anonymous said...

Steve:"Shockley's attempt to get credit for the work of his underlings Bardeen and Brattain failed. But he had a Plan B: invent a better mousetrap, which he did (a new kind of transistor which was easier to manufacture than the one invented by Bardeen and Brattain). That's why the three men shared the 1956 Nobel, even though didn't B&B didn't like S. And that seems fair, although undoubtedly there were others who would have deserved inclusion if the Nobel didn't have a maximum of three names in one year."

Anonymous:"He still seems like a dick though. He tried to suppress their work. And then got famous for improving on something that he tried to prevent from being developed."

The difference between Shockley and your average "dick," however, lies in the fact that Shockley had, as Steve points out, the brains required to actually improve on the work that he had tried to claim credit for. The world would be a better place if every "dick" had that kind of talent to fall back on.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"Terman's father tracked the elite of the elite of California's public schools.

Unfrontunately, his team didn't track two Nobel Prize winners,
Shockley and Luis Alvarez. Their IQs were not high enough."

Both Shockley and Alvarez were just barely below the cut-off point for Terman's project.


Syon

Anonymous said...

Terman's books are still fundamentally necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand real electronics. Unfortunately, they are still made unavailable by copyright: the family apparently wants an insane royalty for their reprinting.

HP built an oscillator, not an oscilloscope as was originally reported. But it was a VERY GOOD oscillator, orders of magnitude better in stability and cheaper to build than the previous heterodyne types. It made generating a clean sine wave in the audio region possible: one effect was to make it possible to drive a synchronous motor via an amplifier, expensive and inefficient, but possible, and that made 'Fantasia' feasible, for one thing. Disney bought a pile of HP 200s.

Shockley was an abrasive, confrontational and self centered person, but he was also brilliant and very hard working. I respect and admire him for being willing to tell the truth about race, intelligence and eugenics, but would not have wanted to have to work for or around him.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Shockley and your average "dick," however, lies in the fact that Shockley had, as Steve points out, the brains required to actually improve on the work that he had tried to claim credit for. The world would be a better place if every "dick" had that kind of talent to fall back on.

Not necessarily. It's easy to see how "talented dicks" can be bad. Like intelligent sociopaths. Apparently Shockley could have prevented or delayed the development of the transistor entirely.

Anonymous said...

Stanford's efforts to study, track, and identify high IQ kids went on for a long, long time. As a preschooler in the early 70s, I was part of an early study by H. Dean Brown to look into the uses of computers in education as well as to more accurate measure the IQs of young children.

The tests that they gave at the time were easily skewed by the differential rates of brain development and learning to read in young children. My IQ was ludicrously overestimated simply because I was a very early reader. I was smart (140-144ish) but nowhere near as bright as the tests were indicating.

Still, it was a cool program, a lot of fun to play with some of the really early computers of the '70s.

dearieme said...

"It was exaggerated.

Syon"

That's interesting: in what way?

P.S. If you have an electronic version of the accusations that WKPD made a few years ago, could you please post it here?

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...


wanttoknow:"How was this possible? With similar financial resources and brain power to that of the allies, how did they make such huge leaps in technology in such a short span of time? It doesn't really make sense unless you consider the possibility that they might have had access to technology from some advanced civilization. Could they have recovered one or more crashed UFOs and back engineered the technology? Sound far fetched? Can you come up with a better explanation?"


Even more awesome: Aliens came to Earth and they tried to help the Nazis!!!

Or

Aliens come to earth, happen upon Godel's closed timelike solutions to the GR field equations, {smack collective foreheads} realize they actually have the technology to build that time travel device and ... go back in time and help the Nazis!

Phew, that is some funny shite.

Anonymous said...

Title IX coming to STEM:

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/usa-whitehouse-titleix-idINL1E8HKJNC20120620


Unreal. The fastest way to screw up an advanced society is to enforce 50% women in things like mechanical engineering (education AND jobs).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Not necessarily. It's easy to see how "talented dicks" can be bad. Like intelligent sociopaths. Apparently Shockley could have prevented or delayed the development of the transistor entirely."

All other factors being equal, I favor talent/intelligence. Had Shockley lacked the brains for his plan B, he might have tried even harder to block/claim credit for his underlings work.

RE: sociopaths: Intelligent sociopaths can be reasoned with; They can be persuaded to engage in socially constructive acts;one merely has to explain how they will benefit.

Syon

wren said...

Title IX coming to STEM:

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/usa-whitehouse-titleix-idINL1E8HKJNC20120620

Unreal. The fastest way to screw up an advanced society is to enforce 50% women in things like mechanical engineering (education AND jobs).


I've been watching a lot of NASA youtube videos about their upcoming Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. It looks like a very exciting project. I am surprised to see how many young female engineers are working on the project. It is curious.

Whiskey said...

Re the Whiskey bait, what else is new? I could name five or six guys who fit that, including Joran Van Der Sloot, Scot Peterson, Drew Peterson, OJ, to name a few.

Silicon Valley depends on Engineering talent, and in a different way than Microsoft. I'm sure everyone has read the Vanity Fair article about why MicroSoft failed -- the stacking ranking beloved of Jack Welch at GE: bottom ranked guys fired at year end taking primary cause for the decline of MS. Result: guys fight to be top dog not bottom, instead of producing a great product.

Also, top managers fire older White guys to promote highly-ranked (by managers) but low producing Black/Hispanic/Female engineers for "diversity" etc.

If you want to know WHY Microsoft has blown: the Zune, tablets, phones, the Xbox, Bing, etc. this is why. Add in dependence on a poorly skilled outsourcing army and the picture is complete.

Silicon Valley depends on creative destruction, blowing up old business models and creating more profitable new ones. That puts an emphasis on small, highly talented, and united engineers not a massive army of drones. Talent MATTERS to a large degree in that model, far more than say Amazon (the new Wal-Mart). And certainly MS.

Anonymous said...

"I interviewed Schockley once. He was a real ass****. Totally."

Numerous articles refer to Shockley as having Aspergers (google on "William Shockley Aspie"). He's on lists of "Famous people with Aspergers". I'm pretty sure I've seen some articles that refer to him as having been "diagnosed with Aspergers".

Did it seem like he was an Aspie, or was he just truly "niceness-challenged"? ;)

wren said...

Title IX coming to STEM:

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/usa-whitehouse-titleix-idINL1E8HKJNC20120620

Unreal. The fastest way to screw up an advanced society is to enforce 50% women in things like mechanical engineering (education AND jobs).


I've been watching a lot of NASA youtube videos about their upcoming Curiosity Rover landing on Mars recently. It looks like a very exciting project and I am surprised to see how many young female engineers are working on it. It is curious.

Example.


I hope it is a success.

Anonymous said...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/07/09/why_economic_policy_is_paralyzed_114726.html

Anonymous said...

All other factors being equal, I favor talent/intelligence. Had Shockley lacked the brains for his plan B, he might have tried even harder to block/claim credit for his underlings work.

If he lacked the brains, he might never have gotten into a position where he could block/claim credit for important work.

Anonymous said...

"We know who is inside of him - an unfortunate Chinese bloke." - Lucky me I wasn't drinking anything while reading this.

Anonymous said...

I would go with the Shockley model and Traitorours Seven at Fairchild.

This is how you would make a semiconductor " Take Pure Germanium [Noyce, Moore etc] and add some "dopant-impurity" Arsenic[Shockley] and you end up with a semiconoductor.

John Kelly is credited with Transistor, as planarization which lead to the modern Micorprocessor.

Jeff W. said...

I don't think that "obstreperous" or "obnoxious" are the right words to describe Shockley's management style.

I think "domineering" or "overbearing" would be better.

Anonymous said...

"It was exaggerated.

Syon"

Dearieme:"That's interesting: in what way?

P.S. If you have an electronic version of the accusations that WKPD made a few years ago, could you please post it here?"

Sadly, I don't have a record of the WKPD accusations, but the standard anti-Bell team line usually relies on claiming that the Bell team's work was wholly derived from Julius Lilienfeld's field-effect transistor. Now, certain key points need to borne in mind :

1. The Bell team was aware of Lilienfeld's work, although they did their best to suppress knowledge of this fact.

2. That the Bell team built on Lilienfeld's work is undeniable. Indeed, Bell lawyers left Shockley off the initial patent applications because he wanted to base the patents on his field effect principle, which seemed too close to Lilienfeld's work.

3. Even allowing for all this, however, the Bell team's point contact transistor was not a mere knock-off of Lilienfeld's field effect transistor. Plus, there is also Shockley's independent work on the junction transistor, a further improvement on the point contact transistor (one might also add Shockley's seminal ELECTRONS AND HOLES IN SEMICONDUCTORS, which contains the Shockley diode equation).


So, did Lilienfeld invent the transistor? Yes and no. As is often the case in science (cf the electrical telegraph, with its tangled skein of rival claimants: Schilling, Joseph Henry, Gauss, Wheatstone, Cooke, Morse, etc), complete originality is a very rare thing.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"If he lacked the brains, he might never have gotten into a position where he could block/claim credit for important work."

Yeah, and if he lacked brains, he would not have developed the junction transistor or written ELECTRONS AND HOLES IN SEMICONDUCTORS WITH APPLICATION TO TRANSISTOR ELECTRONICS, either.Again, I prefer to have smart people in charge; at least they have the potential to do something on their own.

Syon

beowulf said...

"Stop wondering. The answer is no. Also, the Nazis did not have access to UFO* technology."

The 1946 Harper's article ("Secrets by the Thousands") didn't mention UFOs, was that term even in use back then. I linked to the site which reprinted it for its violation of the laws of copyright (not physics).

p.s. this JFK memo about UFOs the CIA declassified last year should be worth 38 Syon comments.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378284/Secret-memo-shows-JFK-demanded-UFO-files-10-days-assassination.html

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and if he lacked brains, he would not have developed the junction transistor or written ELECTRONS AND HOLES IN SEMICONDUCTORS WITH APPLICATION TO TRANSISTOR ELECTRONICS, either.Again, I prefer to have smart people in charge; at least they have the potential to do something on their own.

There were smart people like Bardeen and Brattain around. It's not clear at all that Shockley would've done anything without them around. Whereas Bardeen and Brattain had to work against and around Shockley, and thus likely would have without him around, and at an accelerated pace at that.

We're not talking about "smart people". We're talking about morally or personality defective people.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"There were smart people like Bardeen and Brattain around. It's not clear at all that Shockley would've done anything without them around."

Seems a bit of a stretch.


"Whereas Bardeen and Brattain had to work against and around Shockley, and thus likely would have without him around, and at an accelerated pace at that."

Who knows?Maybe competing against an ass like Shockley vitalized them.

"We're not talking about "smart people". We're talking about morally or personality defective people."

Actually, in the case of Shockley we are talking about both. Shockley was both smart and "morally defective."

Syon

Anonymous said...

beowulf:"The 1946 Harper's article ("Secrets by the Thousands") didn't mention UFOs, was that term even in use back then*. I linked to the site which reprinted it for its violation of the laws of copyright (not physics)."

Yes, but the site surrounded the article with some delightfully wacky UFO conspiracy talk.Given your gullibility, I thought it prudent to bring it up.

*No, UFO came into use in the 1950s

Syon

Anonymous said...

beowulf:"p.s. this JFK memo about UFOs the CIA declassified last year should be worth 38 Syon comments.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378284/Secret-memo-shows-JFK-demanded-UFO-files-10-days-assassination.html"

MMM. Perhaps one comment: JFK assassination conspiracy literature is the gateway drug to hardcore UFOlogy. Please try to work in the Knights Templar in your next post. Remember, the Templars have something to do with everything (cf Umberto Eco's FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM).

Syon

Anonymous said...

Seems a bit of a stretch.

Not really.


Actually, in the case of Shockley we are talking about both.

That's what I meant. Not simply "smart people".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Not really."

Well, we will never no, will we?

As for myself,having experienced both varieties in my personal life, I will go to my grave preferring swinish bosses who are smart to swinish bosses who are stupid. Of course, in the best of all possible worlds, our bosses will be both smart and gentlemanly.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"Well, we will never no, will we?"

Stone the crows, that should be "Well, we will never know, will we?"

Although, "we will never no" does have a dotty, Lewis Carroll-esque logic to it.

Syon

Anonymous said...

Well, we will never know, will we?

I think we have a decent idea.

I will go to my grave preferring swinish bosses who are smart to swinish bosses who are stupid.

If you're working for stupid, swinish bosses, you've got more problems to worry about than them preventing or retarding progress.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"I think we have a decent idea."

Clearly not, as we differ rather markedly in our estimations of Shockley's intellectual abilities.


Anonymous:"If you're working for stupid, swinish bosses, you've got more problems to worry about than them preventing or retarding progress."

Well, seeing as how our society is predicated on technological growth, I'm not so sure about that one...

Syon

Anonymous said...

Ya' know... I'm sure the Knights Templar are really behind silicon valley. Do you know California is named after the Caleph? If you squint real hard it all comes together.

Anonymous said...

The bipolar transistor (point-contact or junction, diffused) is a fundamentally different device than the field effect transistor. The FET, which was 'discovered' first but never used until the mid-1960s, ironically works like a vacuum tube: a voltage controls a current, whereas a bipolar transistor controls and is controlled by current and runs at a constant voltage throughout its linear region. This is a fundamental difference. Why the FET was invented first but implemented last is a very interesting question the answer to which I don't know. But considering that it would have been far easier for engineers trained on tubes to utilize, the mystery deepens.

Justthisguy said...

My favorite effective a-hole is Admiral Hymie. A characteristic Rickover quote: "Anti-semitism is the least of the reasons why so many people dislike me."

Rickover was a free-wheeling son of a bitch, consciously so, and proud of it. He famously won an engineering "E" for USS Nevada when he was her CHENG by shutting off steam to all the radiators in the berthing spaces.