Broken Genius

The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age
Shurkin, Joel N.
Date published: 
June 2006

Broken Genius is the first biography of William Shockley, founding father of Silicon Valley - one of the most significant and reviled scientists of the Twentieth century. Shockley won a Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor, upon which almost everything that makes the modern world is based. Little has affected history as much as this device, developed along with John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories in the mid-1940s. But William Shockley is remembered more for one of the most vicious controversies in modern science. His campaigning about race, intelligence and genetics saw him donating to the Nobel Prize sperm bank, being vilified on national TV and ultimately destroyed his reputation. Drawing upon unique access to the colossal private Shockley archives, veteran technology historian and journalist Joel Shurkin gives an unflinching account of how such promise ended in such ignominy.