Science: Problem Child

The germanium transistor, now five years old, has reached a ripe, mature age as electronic gadgets grow. But, asked the Philco Corp.'s Director of Research Donald G. Fink, "Is it a pimpled adolescent, now awkward, but promising future vigor? Or has it arrived at maturity, full of languor, surrounded by disappointments?"

Most experts (Fink included) were at first convinced that the transistor was a prodigy. In time, they predicted, it would do anything as well as a vacuum tube. The experts were wrong, says Fink. When the first transistors were built, no one worried about moisture, and moisture has turned out to...

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