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Lot #9
William Shockley

The Nobel winner’s 285–page scientific notebook

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Estimate: $5000+
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The Nobel winner’s 285–page scientific notebook

American physicist (1910–1989) who won the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for his development of the transistor. One-of-a-kind green cloth binder of scientific and experimental notes kept by Shockley, mostly in pencil, totaling approximately 285 pages (most single-sided), 7 x 9, dated January 8, 1945–April 5, 1956. The extensive notes track several projects Shockley undertook at the time he was working on the solid-state transistor, namely the development of the delta and sweep-wing aircraft, with specific notes concerning the Bell X-5 and the F-86. Shockley’s notes include copious calculations, detailed graphs and diagrams, wind-tunnel testing schedules, and lengthy bibliographies referencing over 650 relevant pieces of literature on the subject. In overall very good to fine condition, with tears to binder holes on several of the sheets. Accompanied by a series of candid photographs of Shockley and a separate hand-drawn electrical schematic.

Shockley’s involvement with aircraft began during WWII while working for Bell Labs, where he would also work on the development of the transistor. He became involved with radar research in 1942, and in 1944 organized a training program to introduce radar bomb sights to B-29 bomber pilots. As many of Shockley’s scientific manuscripts are now in institutional holdings, material in his hand of this caliber is seldom encountered. Overall, this notebook is a testament to the intellectual discipline and breadth of knowledge of one of the most important inventors of the 20th century.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Autographs, Artifacts & Animation
  • Dates: #489 - Ended December 07, 2016