Dear Mr. Shurkin:

I enjoyed reading your exploration of the ever fascinating Shockley story although it was very sad to read your portrayal of the his last days.  Poor Emmy!

I was, however,  a bit shocked to read on page 174 "One man, R. V. Jones, resigned weeks after being hired."  Further, that Shockley had only three PhD physicists (page 168-169) at the time of the rental of 391 South San Antonio Road also came as quite a surprise.   (By the way it wasn't a Quonset.)   I went on the SSL payroll in late 1955 and left for Harvard in the Spring of 1957.  That's a lot of weeks.   In case you doubt my recollection of long ago times,  Shockley and I filed a patent application (granted April 1961 as #2,979,386) on August 1956 for what became in SSL lore the legendary (or, perhaps better, infamous) crystal growing apparatus.  My work on this crazy machine involved a huge amount of travel, research into bizarre materials and a lot of time with designers and lawyers.  My departure from the SSL in 1957 is noted in Leslie Berlin's book.

As background, Shockley first tried to recruit me in the Fall of 1955 while I was finishing up my thesis at Berkeley.  I was flattered, but uninterested since I had already accepted a really great research job at Bell Labs.  Shockley after wining and dinning me, tried an interesting hook.  He said he understood my hesitation and would back off, but asked, as a favor, if I would help him "calibrate" McMurray-Hamstraas by seeing if their evaluation agreed with his.  One thing led to another and I soon became stigmatized at Bell Labs as the nincompoop that Shockley conned out of a serious scientific job.  For a couple of months, Shockley paraded me around APS and NAS meetings as some kind of prize, since he not been able to recruit any of his old BTL buddies.

Although I realize the SSL is not the focus of your book, I do think that you and other writers have missed one of Shockley's truly outstanding contributions - viz., the advent of the mesa transistor as a metaphor for fabrication techniques which rely on the control of "natural process."  In my first conversations with Shockley, he argued or, should I say, obsessed - from his experience with the mesa transistor - that the required small scale of transistor dimensions could only be reliably achieved by the careful control of natural or physical processes such as chemical diffusion, chemical etching and ion implantation. Since these and like techniques have come to dominate nearly every aspect of current technology (not only IC fabrication, but also integrated optics, micromechanics, microbiology,etc.), this may represent Shockley's most visionary contribution.

One of the small ironies of the Shockley-Termite connection is that his first SSL secretary - Carol Hymsworth(sp?) - was a much studied Termite.  Carol, in fact, was the person injured by the much discussed broken glass tack.

Thanks for a good read, Victor Jones