Defense-related research leads to the computer, the world enters the atomic age and TV conquers America.


Magnetron oscillator

An early version of the magnetron oscillator, the first device capable of producing very high power at microwave frequencies, is built, allowing great advances in radar technology.

Ising model

Mathematical chemist Lars Onsager provides a solution to the two-dimensional Ising model that accurately predicts the behavior of a magnet.

First computer

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC), the world's first electronic computer, is completed, three years after building was begun.

Discovering NMR

American physicists Edward Purcell and Felix Bloch independently discover nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), the selective absorption of electromagnetic radiation by the nuclei of certain atoms exposed to a strong, static magnetic field.

Transister invented

A team of physicists employed at the Bell Telephone Laboratories invent the transistor, an electronic device composed of a semiconductor and at least three electrodes that is chiefly used for amplification or switching. The transistor subsequently begins to replace vacuum tubes in electronics.

Quantum electrodynamics

American physicists Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger independently formulate a theory of quantum electrodynamics that merges quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity. At approximately the same time, the equivalent theory of Japanese physicist Tomonaga Shin'ichiro, which was published several years earlier in Japan, gains international attention.

Magnetic tape

"The Bing Crosby Show" becomes the first radio program broadcast from magnetic tape.

MIT's Whirlwind

Magnetic core memory is introduced and enables a team of scientists and engineers at MIT to construct Whirlwind (completed in 1951), the world’s first computer to operate in real time.

Seeing magnetic domains

The first observation of magnetic domains by the Kerr effect is reported.

Ceramic magnets

The Phillips Company announces the development of barium- and strontium-based ceramic magnets.

Integrated circuit

Jack Kilby, an electrical engineer working at Texas Instruments, and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor independently invent the integrated circuit, a device consisting of multiple electronic components and their interconnections etched or imprinted on a thin substrate.

Bubble chamber

American physicist Donald Glaser builds the first working bubble chamber, a radiation detection device that enables the observation of the paths of subatomic particles.

Solar battery

At Bell Laboratories Calvin Fuller, Daryl Chapin and Gerald Pearson invent the first solar battery, which converted about 6 percent of sunlight into electricity and was used to power a radio transmitter during its first public demonstration.

Nuclear power station

For the first time on a large scale, radioactive materials are utilized as fuel to generate electricity when the first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall, is established in England.

Theory of superconductivity

American physicists John Bardeen, Leon Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer develop a successful, far-reaching theory explaining why some materials at extremely low temperatures conduct electricity without resistance, the BCS theory of superconductivity.

Nuclear power in the U.S.

The Shippingport Atomic Power Station opens in Pennsylvania, the first civilian nuclear power plant in the U.S.
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