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Bell Labs – The Transistor

An evening pause: This 9-minute documentary, made in 1952 by Bell Labs, provides a short and clear history of the transistor as well as its predecessor, the vacuum tube. It also tries to imagine the future that such a new invention might bring. As the youtube page notes,

While The Transistor’s vision of the future seems somewhat quaint in retrospect, it captures a moment in time before the transistor became ubiquitous; a time when Bell Labs wanted the world to know that something important had occurred, something that was about to bring tremendous change to everyone’s daily lives.

Hat tip Jim Mallamace.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • pzatchok

    I still like my tube radios.

  • Kevin R.

    Valves still have their place in music production and listening; they add a rich harmonic structure that gives a fuller body to sound.

  • Phill O

    Now, that is dating me!

  • Jay

    Good video. Yes, vacuum tubes are still used today for radio amplifiers, but those days are coming close to an end with the LDMOS amplifiers. The only place I can buy tubes are either from Russia or with questionable quality from China. No more New Old Stock (NOS) U.S. tubes can be found anymore.

    Yes, there is a difference in sound quality between tubes and transistors. In school I was told about this difference and one of my teachers demonstrated this, but I could not hear the difference. All I thought of was that area of that knee voltage of the push-pull amplifier and I could not hear it. Later in my career, a fellow co-worker who is an audiophile demonstrated the difference again, but he used various types of music to show the ‘warmth’ of the sound vs. a transistor type radio. I did finally hear the difference.

  • pzatchok

    I got started in tube radios because I needed them for the cars I was rebuilding.

    I got lucky and found an older gentleman who showed me how to get them working.

    Since them i have been collecting home models that could be repaired. They make nice working furniture.

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