etymology of word "transistor"

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by PG1995, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. PG1995

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 15, 2011

    I'm trying to understand the etymology of word "transistor". Please help me.

    Merriam Webster states: transfer + resistor; from its transferring an electrical signal across a resistor.

    Would you please tell me how does a transistor 'transfer resistance'? Thanks for your help.

  2. Hi-Z

    Active Member

    Jul 31, 2011
    Wikipedia has 2 possible explanations:

    "Transistor. This is an abbreviated combination of the words "transconductance" or "transfer", and "varistor". The device logically belongs in the varistor family, and has the transconductance or transfer impedance of a device having gain, so that this combination is descriptive."

    "The way I provided the name, was to think of what the device did. And at that time, it was supposed to be the dual of the vacuum tube. The vacuum tube had transconductance, so the transistor would have 'transresistance.' And the name should fit in with the names of other devices, such as varistor and thermistor. And. . . I suggested the name 'transistor.'"
  3. Zod


    Jul 3, 2011
    I think the term "semiconductor" comes into play. Resistors in a way "semi" conduct. I don't believe it is truly an accurate description, but at the same time a transistor can act as a pot. Just muddying it further ;)