RIP: Morgan Sparks, transistor inventor; former Bell Labs researcher and Sandia Labs Director


Stephanie Holinka of Sandia National Laboratories tells Boing Boing,

We are sad to report the death of former Sandia Labs Director Morgan Sparks. He's best known as the Bell Labs researcher who invented the first practical transistor. His work made possible so many other inventions. Without transistors, one cannot begin to imagine personal computers, cell phones, DVD players and the many other electronic devices we rely on daily. His contributions are pretty humbling to mere English majors like me.
Link to a news story about his passing; here's a profile on PBS.org for the "Transistorized!" documentary.

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  1. I guess it’s a little late to say “thank you”, but I mean it anyway.

    Thank you.

  2. Well, I for one, am all in favor of transistors. As a junior electronics geek, all I can say is, I would never have become one if it weren’t for guys like Mr. Sparks. (And might I add – what a great name for and electronics inventor). Safe passage sir.

  3. William Shockley , John Bardeen and Walter Brattain co – invented the transistor while working at Bell Labs . They received the 1956 Nobel prize for this .

  4. I say, as I type on a portable computer that weighs less than 3lbs, connected wirelessly to a router that can transmit hundreds of bits per second, that is connected to a DSL modem, which is also connected to a telephone line that runs down to the CO office of my phone company–through the digital switching equipment, out to the thousands of routers on the Internet, then back down to a computer somewhere out there in cyberspace to be processed by a CPU…

    All of them with millions of transistors silently switching away…

    Thank you, Mr. Sparks. Your tiny (in physical size) contribution to the world has made an unparalleled change in it–forever.

  5. for a few years i worked in his building in Holmdel, NJ. when i saw some moron co-worker sitting where these men did their work, i would make them move. every time. speaking of morons, Lucent sold the building. it sits vacant & glorious. iron men & wooden poles, a great human contribution, RIP

  6. Why does no one recognize the name of Robert Noyce ? If anyone can claim to be the father of all the electronics we use today , it is him .

  7. Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson’s Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age has been on my To Read list forever:

    Just as fascinating as the scientific background, though, is the story of the brains and events behind the invention of the transistor. The collaboration and rivalry of the three men credited with the invention—the brilliant John Bardeen, the likable Walter Brattain, and the appallingly driven William Shockley—hold center stage. However, authors Riordan and Hoddeson make it clear that the unique organizational resources of Bell Labs, the furious course of the war effort, and the random twists and turns of historical accident played equally important roles.

    Sparks and Noyce are also covered, among others.

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