The transistor turns 65, awaits AARP card

Without the transistor our modern world would not be possible. It is, arguably, the most important scientific advance of the 20th century and this weekend it officially enters its golden years. 65 years ago William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain (above) worked together to create the world's first point-contact transistor, a direct precursor to the electronic component that powers every thing from radios and microwaves, to super computers and smartphones. The first successful experiment was performed on December 16th in 1947, though work had begun decades before, with the FET (field-effect transistor) first being patented in 1925. It wasn't until after World War II that Bell Labs started putting serious work into the technology eventually resulting in the basic building block of logic circuits.

[Photo courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent/Bell Labs]