TitleBakalar, David oral history
PublisherComputer History Museum
Place of PublicationChestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Copyright HolderComputer History Museum
DescriptionDavid Bakalar was born into a very poor Jewish family in Lynn, Massachusetts. Living only a few miles from Harvard, he had never heard of the university until a high school teacher recommended he apply. He was accepted with a scholarship and attended Harvard for two years, commuting daily on the bus. Despite the hardships and an interruption to serve in the Navy in WWII, he graduated from Harvard and earned a PhD in physics from MIT .
He left MIT in 1952 to join Bell Labs, Murray Hill, where he found himself working down the corridor from William Shockley. Although Bakalar did not work for Shockley, he did learn techniques for purifying germanium and silicon. He then moved to Allentown where he helped set up a transistor manufacturing line.
Watching many of his colleagues leave to start companies based on this new device, the transistor, Bakalar decided to do the same. At the age of 28, he set up Transitron Electronic Corp in Lynn, MA, where they started making diodes and the first high voltage silicon rectifiers. Transitron went public five years later. It was one of the largest semiconductor companies in the late 1950s. Bakalar stayed with the company as President until 1984 when he retired at age 60.
After his retirement Bakalar changed careers completely. Following his interest in art, he first started collecting paintings. He later met the well-known sculptor George Segal. From there he developed an interest in that art form and went on to become an internationally recognized sculptor.