Solid-State Physicist WILLIAM SHOCKLEY

He fathered the transistor and brought the silicon to Silicon Valley but is remembered by many only for his noxious racial views

The transistor was born just before Christmas 1947 when John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, two scientists working for William Shockley at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., observed that when electrical signals were applied to contacts on a crystal of germanium, the output power was larger than the input. Shockley was not present at that first observation. And though he fathered the discovery in the same way Einstein fathered the atom bomb, by advancing the idea and pointing the way, he felt left out of the momentous occasion.

Shockley, a very competitive and sometimes infuriating man, was determined to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!