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Television demonstration at the Bell System Labs, 1927 Bardeen, John (1902-1987)

John Bardeen was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1956, jointly with Walter Brattain and William Shockley, for research into semiconductors and discovery of 'the transistor effect', which led to the development of the first transistor (created in 1947 and unveiled the following year).

Early in his career Bardeen's studies in electrical engineering focused on geophysics when the science was being widely used to search for oil in new uncharted territories. But he found that commercial life wasn't for him and instead ducked out of the oil world to explore theoretical science at Princeton University.

His career took him to Harvard and the Universities of Minnesota and Illinois where his research included quantum theory and solid-state physics, but his speciality after 1945 was electrical conductivity in metals. This work led directly to the Nobel Prize, and the transistor became the building block for modern electronic, computer and microchip technology.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...