Alum’s invention led to modern age of technology
Dallas-based Texas Instruments is credited with creating the first silicon transistor, an invention that is at the heart of modern technology. Today’s radios, telephones and computers never would have existed if not for the transistor. And who was leading that Texas Instruments team? Baylor alumnus Gordon Teal, who for his work will be inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in May.
Teal, a Dallas native, originally planned to go to MIT but instead enrolled at Baylor to be closer to home. He earned his degree in chemistry in just three years, also finding time to letter in track and participate in Chamber before graduating in 1927. (He also met his wife, Lyda, at Baylor, and speaks highly of the university in this interview from 1991.)
After working on the first germanium transistors at Bell Labs, Teal moved back to Texas to work for the relatively young Texas Instruments in 1953. There, he helped lead the team that created the first commercial silicon transistor, making a splash when he introduced the company’s work during a national conference in 1954, at a time when most researchers thought that producing a silicon transistor was just too difficult. Teal and TI proved them wrong. Three years later, one of Teal’s staffers created the first integrated circuit — another major step toward today’s computers.
In 1965, Teal and Earl C. Hankamer (as in Hankamer School of Business) were the first two recipients of the Baylor Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The University also offers the Gordon K. Teal Scholarship in Physics “for undergraduate physics majors with outstanding grades.”
Sic ’em, Baylor inventors!