1951 Bell Telephone Laboratories Transistor Symposium

Bell Labs had an important realization: development of the transistor was going to move a lot more quickly if they opened up the field to other companies.  So in cooperation with the military services, Bell Telephone Laboratories held the first symposium on Transistor electronics at the Murray Hill Laboratories in New Jersey, where the Transistor was invented a little more than three years prior. Nearly 300 guests attended the 5 day event with sessions from September 17 to September 21, 1951.

Symposia Guests Bused to Event Every Day
Event Registration
Lunch Break

“We realized that if this thing was as big as we thought, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves and we couldn’t make all the technical contributions.  It was in our interest to spread it around.  If you cast your bread on the water, sometimes it comes back angel food cake.”

 Jack Morton, as interviewed in “The Improbable Years”, Electronics (19 February 1968) p. 81

Introduction to the tutorial sessions was by Jack Morton, well known for his leadership, ability to hire excellent researchers, and an insatiable driving energy. There followed an array of excellent presentations on exciting topics by world-class technologists. Audience interest was piqued by early presentations, and grew into a wave of enthusiasm as visions of possible new device, circuit and systems worlds unfolded. (In reality, the transistor industry was destined to attain even far greater heights than were implied by the BTL presentations.) 

About 250 visitors were brought from New York to Murray Hill and returned each day in buses; these buses were also used to transport them to and from lunch each noon. At the end of the event these visitors took a compiled book titled “The Transistor” of selected event presentations. The attendees used this knowledge to begin a strategy of adopting transistors for military, university, large and small electronics firms. A brilliant “seeding” strategy by Bell Labs.

Preparing the Symposium’s Book for PDF Download

I having been seeking a copy of the symposium manual “The Transistor” for a few years. Today, I am happy to say that I found a copy on loan at the University of Santa Clara University Library. I have scanned it, bookmarked it, cross-linked it, and made it available for PDF download here to help new readers…

The symposium'[s book “The Transistor” 1951
Scanning the symposia book in my lab


Test M1752 NPN Prototype (1951) Junction Germanium Transistor (in 2021!)

Bell Laboratories Record, November 1951: pp 524-525

Attending the 1951 Symposium,  from an Attendee’s Viewpoint

Sharing the Technology: Bell Hosts Transistor Symposia, 1951-1952

The improbable years, Electronics 02/19/1968, pp 78-90

Author: Ron Fredericks

Ron Fredericks accelerates productivity within research labs: hands-on electronics, MATLAB, and python design; leadership in technical marketing. 2 biophysics patents, technical and leadership awards for IoT, and recognized technology educator.

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