Who invented something depends on your definition of “something” - Anablog | Blog on EDN

Who invented something depends on your definition of “something” - Anablog | Blog on EDN: "Who invented something depends on your definition of “something”
February 17, 2011

It’s simplistic to say Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain invented the transistor. Equally shallow is saying Kilby was the sole inventor the integrated circuit. There is no argument; they were smart hard-working fellows. But the process of invention is a lot messier than we like to think it is. My boss, EDN editorial director Ron Wilson has pointed out that one of problems with the patent law is that it forces the government to select one and only one winner. That is why some of my cleverest friends do not file patents. They say it is just an invitation to spend $450k in federal court. They prefer trade secrets and just moving faster than the competition.

Look at the invention of the transistor. We like the story that three Americans, working for that venerable government-sanctioned monopoly, Bell Labs, invented it. But in 1948 Herbert Mataré and Heinrich Welker working for Westinghouse in Paris also invented a transistor (pdf). They called it the transistron and you could argue it was a more polished and professional product. They came out with their transistron about the same time that Bell labs did. The really disturbing thing is that Mataré invented and observed transistor action in a point contact transistor in 1943, 4 years before Bell Labs....................................

- Sent using Google Toolbar"