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William Shockley

On December 23, 1947, in the Bell Telephone Laboratories at Murray Hill, New Jersey, physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain spoke over the world’s first transistor-amplified telephone circuit, a quarter-inch-tall device composed of a thin strip of gold foil sliced in two in order to create two metal contacts over a crystal of germanium. Their success was the culmination of eight years of research conducted alongside their team leader, 37-year old William B. Shockley, and triggered a wave of new electronics.

On the greeting-card racks this past Christmas could be seen a minor technological miracle—a Christmas card that upon opening showed a small yellow light that glowed while the card played a tinny but recognizable version of “Jingle Bells.” The yellow light was the latest addition to a novelty that made its first appearance a couple of years ago—the electronic greeting card.

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