Everyone involved with SMEC vol. #2 ( 1990) wrote about their early stories about solid-state. Not
to feel out of place, I have decided to tell one of my own! Enjoy! - EAS (reprinted
for SMEC 'vintage electrics vol #2 1990)
When I was in third grade, in 1960, I had built my first radio. It
was a rather simple affair using the razor blade as a detector. The blade
was soon replaced by a Galena detector, probably of Philmore manufacturing
pedigree. It worked well, and I was very amused that I had a radio, that
not only had I built myself, but it required no batteries or wall socket
current to function!
I wanted to build an amplifier to make the little radio louder, but
high voltage power supplies were off limits until I was a bit older by
request of, what I now see as, a wise father.
There was a girl in my class by the name of Barbara Beroza, who I
liked very much! In a conversation we had one afternoon, she had told me
that her father was an engineer and worked with, as she put it, `electronics
stuff'. I do not remember the exact amount of time that passed, but I do
remember her bringing me in some transistors! A new world was open to me,
amplification that I could hold in the palm of my hand! Of course this
form of amplification could be powered by a small battery not the forbidden
high voltage power supply!
I remember running from the bus clutching this handful of miracles,
in a hurry to perform the implementation process on my little radio. The
first connection was to replace the galena detector.
Wow! When I hooked it up a certain way I would get radio stations
and I did not have to find the `good' spot on the crystal! With a satisfied
smile I decided to see if the signal could be made louder.
Into the closet I dashed to gather up the 6 large dry cells, the
type with binding posts on the top, that I had stashed there. I seem to
recall that I took the third lead of the transistor hooked it to one lead
of this string of large dry cells and the other lead of the battery ensemble
to ground. The radio stopped playing... What had happened I thought? Well...
let's try another transistor... ok new transistor in circuit.. radio works..
connect battery... transistor is dead... next one the same result.... I
think you have the picture now! Right? I was of course managing to destroy
my new found amplifiers one at a time. My new found solid state toys grew
quite warm when the current from these 6 dry cells flowed through it!
I took the remaining couple of transistors that had not undergone
the `test' and placed them on the dresser top to await my dad's return
from work. My father, although I realized he was knowledgeable in electronics,
had not built anything utilizing transistors. In talking with him that
evening I learned his experience with actually doing engineering work was
prior to the transistor era. He had spent his recent years at Hughes Aircraft
in management. He was in the years to come, however, teach me many things
about electronics, microwaves, how to work on mechanical things and life
in general. - EAS