Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age Audiobook | Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson | Audible.com
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Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age | [Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson]

Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age

Crystal Fire is a tale of the human factors in technology; the pride and jealousies coupled with scientific and economic aspiration that led to the creation of modern microelectronics and ignited the greatest technological explosion in history.
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Publisher's Summary

"Without the invention of the transistor, I'm quite sure that the PC would not exist as we know it today." Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft Corporation.

On December 16, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, physicists at Bell Laboratories, jabbed two electrodes into a sliver of germanium half an inch long. The electrical power coming out of that piece of germanium was 100 times stronger than what went in. In that moment the transistor was invented and the Information Age began. Crystal Fire recounts the story of the transistor team at Bell Labs headed up by William Shockley, who shared the Nobel Prize with Bardeen and Brattain. While his colleagues went on to other research, Shockley grew increasingly obsessed with the new gadget. Eventually he formed his own firm, the first semiconductor company in what would become Silicon Valley. Above all, Crystal Fire is a tale of the human factors in technology; the pride and jealousies coupled with scientific and economic aspiration that led to the creation of modern microelectronics and ignited the greatest technological explosion in history.

©1997 Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson; (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks

What Members Say

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3.6 (115 )
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 (32)
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3.7 (19 )
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Story
2.7 (18 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Chad Cambridge Springs, PA, United States 06-18-03
    Chad Cambridge Springs, PA, United States 06-18-03 Member Since 2001

    "Programming is an art form that fights back"

    HELPFUL VOTES
    127
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    137
    14
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    "Interesting and not light on the science either!"

    This book is very interesting for anyone inclined to science. You dont have to by a physicist or mathemetician to appreciate it, yet it covered the actual science behind it as well.

    Not only is it a good history book, but a good primer in understanding semi conductor mechanisms as because its historical, it also explains the discoveries in depth layer by layer.

    After this book you will know the history, but also have a much better understanding of semi conductor physics.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill East Bethel, MN, USA 12-08-05
    Bill East Bethel, MN, USA 12-08-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    17
    5
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    "Better listen to the voice"

    This is a fascinating though technical story. Unfortunately, it is read by monotoned, plodding individual. I suggest listening to a sample of this guy because he makes a great story extremely tedious. It is probably better to read this material rather than to suffer the narator which is too bad. It really will interest a 45-55 computer or electrical engineer.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Cleveland, OH, United States 11-01-04
    Daniel Cleveland, OH, United States 11-01-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    80
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    "A very good book on the history of technology"

    This book pulled out of the dustbin a critical piece of technological history that ultimately changed all of our lives in the IIH of the 20th century. The transistor. Not a physicist or scientist myself, I did find some passages to be heavy-going, realizing that I was not comprehending 100% of the technical information being imparted. But that seemed a small price to pay to find out the story itself, the personalities, the business aspects, and at least some % of the technical aspects. The reader is not the best ... a bit too much monotone for my taste. But OK.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada 05-29-10
    John Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada 05-29-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Phenomenal Transistor Trip"

    Yes it has to be played in double speed but the time spent listening to this book was rewarding and enlightening.

    For those studying electronics this is a must listen

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jose Manel Bernal 01-27-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "bad voice narrator for a spanish spoken"

    i learn english with my audiobooks here and this is the worst quality audible narrator, and seems to be a great book but not audio

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Techie Reader 05-10-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story - Better at rapid playback speed"

    This was a great story; however, I played this audiobook on my Ipod at 2x the normal speed. The narrator spoke very slowly, so I'm not sure I could have listened to the entire book without the fast playback speed.

    This will be a valuable listen if you are interested in the subject and can play the audio at a fast pace.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Avondale, PA, USA 03-20-10
    William Avondale, PA, USA 03-20-10 Member Since 2003
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    "When NJ didn't suck"

    Well researched and comprehensive history of the invention and development of the modern transistor which led to the creation of the semiconductor industry and the computer age. Focus is on the unique environment at Bell Labs immediately before, during, and after WWII, which supported and fostered both pure and applied research. The book paints a balanced, but largely unflattering, picture of William Shockley - one of the three Bell Labs scientists who won the Noble Prize in physics for the invention of the transistor. John Bardeen, who shared the prize, and later won another for his work on superconductivity at the University of Illinois, comes off much better. This book may contain far too much technical detail for the average reader, but it does a very good job of explaining how this technology evolved, spurred the formation of many companies that are now household names, and eventually migrated from Bell Labs in New Jersey, to Silicon Valley in California.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Slidell, LA, United States 06-09-04
    James Slidell, LA, United States 06-09-04
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    "A Well Presented History"

    I found this book to be very informative although I have worked in electronics design and repair for over 40 years. I believe anyone with basic electronic knowledge will enjoy reading this. Those with no knowledge may find the going a bit slow, but should learn a lot about a subject that now touches every life every day. This was a VERY good read.


    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Furr 01-21-13
    K. Furr 01-21-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Good book; wrong voice actor"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Good book but here's the deal: reader Dennis McKee sounds exactly like Sam Elliot -- you know the actor with the mustache who was born to play western-cowboy rolls. I could not unlink this audio from Sam Elliot's image in my head. This is a book about the invention of the transistor, but it sounds like ol' Cookie on the cattle drive sitting around the campfire spinning yarns. Mr. McKee would be fine for some things -- maybe a Louis L'Amour book -- but he's not the right guy for a high tech book. This is EXACTLY my kind of book, but it took me 2 years to get though the audio in fits and starts.


    Would you recommend Crystal Fire to your friends? Why or why not?

    Print not audio.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Sounded like Sam Elliot.


    Could you see Crystal Fire being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Nah, too boring for TV.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-9 of 9 results
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  • Darryl
    Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, United Kingdom
    2/5/08
    Overall
    "Couldnt Finish It!"

    The narrator droned on with so little feeling that I gave up on what actually appears to be an interesting subject.Whatever you do,listen to the sample first.I didnt!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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