William Bradford Shockley, 1910-1989, solid-state
physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
for the invention of the bipolar junction transistor
, later apologist of dubious racial theories.
He was born on February 13, 1910, in London to a mining engineer and a mineral surveyor. His school career took place in Palo Alto. In 1932 he got his bachelor's degree at Caltech and in 1936 his PhD at MIT for his work on "Calculations of Wave Functions for Electrons in Sodium Chloride Crystals".
In the same year he was hired by Bell Labs where he worked on a semiconductor replacement for the big, error-prone and energy-consuming electron tubes. He stayed there till 1955, with an intermission for 1942 till 1945 when he worked on submarine issues and radar technology for the US Army.
In 1947 he invented the bipolar junction transistor, together with his colleagues John Bardeen and Walter H. Brattain.
Unhappy with his position at Bell Labs, he left in 1955 to start up his own company, the Shockley Semiconductor Company, from which a few years after Fairchild Semiconductor spun off. He began his academic career at Stanford University where he became visiting professor in 1958 and professor of engineering in 1962. He stayed there till 1975.
At Stanford he became interested in human intelligence. From the results of some U.S. army pre-scientific intelligence tests, he concluded that African-American people had inherently lower intelligence. He took the position that individuals with an IQ lower than 100 should be paid to get voluntarily sterilized. He donated to a sperm bank of geniuses to pass on his high-intelligence genes, the Repository for Germinal Choice. He also received donations from The Pioneer Fund.
He died at Stanford, California on August 11th, 1989. At the end, he valued his achievements on genetics higher than his undisputed merits on the field of semiconductor physics.
Good biography on his work at his company, written by computer scientist Gordon Moore, known for Moore's Law.
More in-detail stuff on scientific topics
- http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/OTHERSRV/ISAR/archives/genewar/german.htm (on The Pioneer Fund, in German)