Two eager American teenagers explore the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, paying particular attention to the Bell Systems pavilion where the latest in telephone & communications technologies are being demonstrated.
Near the end of the film, the presenter is explaining the various “advanced” calling features of the first electronic central offices, and attributing it to the “magic of the transistor.”
Not mentioned, but shown in the film are arrays of tiny gas-discharge triggered diodes, which were a primitive form of memory element combined with a gate for passing audio signals. Before modern solid state memory, the properties of neon discharge tubes were of great interest to the developers of the early computing devices. There were all kinds of specialized digital devices based on the negative-resistance characteristics and “memory” effect of latched gas-tubes.
I can’t help but to think there must be a stash of these mouldering away in the basement of an old forgotten warehouse somewhere in New Jersey. I’d sure love to get my hands on some!
Below is a link to an old Bell Labs journal article on the subject. Enjoy!