Brattain, Walter Houser, 1902–87, American physicist, b. Xiamen, China, Ph.D. Univ. of Minnesota, 1929. He was a researcher at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. from 1929 to 1967. He then taught at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., until he retired in 1972. Brattain, William Shockley, and John Bardeen were jointly awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention in the late 1940s of the transistor. The transistor replaced bulky, high-maintenance vacuum tubes in telecommunications systems and became the basic building block of modern radios, televisions, computers, and other electronic devices.
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