Electronic Design

Hot Germanium Transistor Too Good

A germanium transistor operated just too well at a recent press conference. As part of a demonstration of a new thermoelectric transistor cooler, General Thermoelectric Corp. of Princeton, N.J., immersed a transistor amplifier in boiling water. The company planned to show how, without a thermoelectric cooler, the boiled transistor would die.

The germanium transistor should have quit amplifying at 85°C. Obstinately, it continued to amplify at 100°C.

The sales manager of Needco Cooling Semiconductors, Ltd. (a Montreal firm which developed the high-efficiency cooler) assured the audience that the signal would soon die. After a minute of heavy silence he tried to coax the unwilling transistor to die. He jiggled the transistor in the boiling water and then began to rap the side of the vessel—gently at first—then not so gently. Finally, the president of Needco joined in and began rapping the water vessel while the sales manager turned to the output-monitoring scope, which he began adjusting and tapping. The scope continued to work well, as did the transistor—still. (Electronic Design, July 20, 1960, p. 25)

I suppose we have all had days like this.

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