Silicon Transistor

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First Texas Instruments silicon transistor

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld received a US patent 1745175 for what we now know as a MESFET in 1925.

On 26 January 1954 Morris Tanenbaum of Bell Labs first achieved amplification in an NPN silicon transistor; this may have been the first silicon transistor ever fabricated, but Bell Labs kept the achievement secret and decided not to patent it.

This first type of transistor is known as a Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT), and required a DC bias arrangement to make it operate. This was an added complexity over equivalent vacuum tube circuits of that era.

Later the Field Effect Transistor (FET) was invented, which had almost the same DC circuit properties as a vacuum tube, and there were indeed some high voltage FET's produced as direct replacements for vacuum tubes (Triodes).


The development of the transistor variants progressed broadly along two paths, noting that there is some overlap between the two groups:

Power Devices

The types of transistor in this category were around applications for power circuits, motor controls, electrical distribution, heating and switching. They include:

  • IGFET, Insulated Gate FET
  • MOSFET, Metal Oxide Semiconductor FET
  • MESFET, Metal Semiconductor FET
  • TMOS

High Frequency Devices

The types of transistor in this category were around applications low noise receivers, high power RF tranmistters, Cellular Networks, Broadcasting. They include:

  • MOSFET, Metal Oxide Semiconductor FET
  • GaAs FET, Gallium Arsenide FET
  • JFET, Junction FET
  • HEMT, High Electron Mobility FET
  • HBT