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Morris Tanenbaum, Who Helped Put Silicon in Microchips, Dies at 94

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Morris Tanenbaum earned seven patents for his work on silicon semiconductor technology.

Morris Tanenbaum credited a visit to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York for spurring his interest in science.

Credit Nancy Kaye/Associated Press

One evening in 1955, Morris Tanenbaum's wife was playing bridge with friends. Dr. Tanenbaum, a chemist who worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories, the research arm of American Telephone & Telegraph Co., saw a chance to dash back to work to test his latest ideas about how to make better semiconductor devices out of silicon.

He tried a new way of connecting an aluminum wire to a silicon chip. He was thrilled when it worked, providing a way to make highly efficient transistors and other electronic devices, an essential technology for the Information Age.

"I don't think I needed a car to get home that evening," he said later in an oral history recorded by the IEEE History Center. "I was flying high."

Dr. Tanenbaum's pioneering work in the mid-1950s demonstrated that silicon was a better semiconductor material for transistors than germanium, the early favorite. He earned seven patents.

From The Wall Street Journal
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