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After all, in the United States vacuum tubes had given way to smaller and less power-hungry solid-state devices two decades earlier, not long after William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain cobbled together the first transistor at Bell Laboratories in 1947. By the mid-1970s, the only vacuum tubes you could find in Western electronics were hidden away in certain kinds of specialized equipment¿not counting the ubiquitous picture tubes of television sets. Today even those are gone, and outside of a few niches, vacuum tubes are an extinct technology. So it might come as a surprise to learn that some very modest changes to the fabrication techniques now used to build integrated circuits could yet breathe vacuum electronics back to life.