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The earliest solid-state digital computers

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1 Author(s)
Harris, J.R. ; 8 Dogwood Lane, Rumson, NJ, USA

In the years before 1947, many, if not most, engineers had the idea that it was physically impossible for a solid to amplify electrical signals. After Bell Labs demonstrated that this idea was wrong, how would engineers and managers go about bringing the new amplifying device up to the level of usability of the vacuum tube? How would its unique characteristics be exploited? How would we convince the armed forces that this device could meet their demanding applications? Why did the early transistors lend themselves well to computing circuits and lend themselves poorly to linear amplification? What was the origin of practices such as temperature cycling and burn-in that became widespread in later years? How did Astounding Science Fiction Magazine play a role? How was information exchanged with universities and government organizations? How were project managers chosen and how did they manage? Some of the answers are found in these memoirs recalling J.A. Morton's Signal Corps project and J.H. Felker's TRADIC Phase I computer project

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 4 )