Sharpe's first transistors!
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Ed Sharpe's First Encounter With Transistors

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


An interesting after note to this article... it is now the 21st century, I found Barbara, she is a curator at a museum located in a national park,  her father was extremely ill, and she did get a chance to show him this story....her father passed away and his 395 volume electrical engineering library has been merged into the library here at the museum. Although I never actually met her father Paul Beroza, his transistors and her gift of them to me  helped put me further down the road of learning.  - EAS

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