How does a transistor work??

My understanding of a transistor is that the electrical current applied to of the pins alters the resistance of the other two pins, allowing electricity to flow or stopping the flow. Is that right?

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As my answer, I recounted the legend of transistor-man, a little man who lives inside the transistor,and adjusts a variable resistor in response to his observations of the base-emitter current.  But I didn't get the BA, and I did get a lot of criticism for such an unscientific viewpoint.
"transistor man"

heh, you're a fan of Horowitz & Hill's the Art of Electronics, aye? I loved that book back in college and still ocassionally refer to it 20 some years later.
New edition due real soon now, according to Win Hill last time I asked him

Cool, you actually know him?

I have to say, they're my heroes. And I have VERY few heroes. Their book is probably one of the best teaching tools I've ever read. I remember some of the books we used early on in college being really dull and opaque, if you know what I mean. They handled it with a perfect combination of technical info, "common speak", and a tad of humor (like transistor man). At least perfect for me. I'd recommend that book to anyone who wants to get a good functional understanding of electronics.
We're vaguely acquainted. He helped me with an atto-farad sensitive detector I was building some time back.

Its just THE best electronics book ever written, its a shame its so out of date.
That's a great little cartoon :-) And certainly good enough for the level of expertise of both this person and your previous one.
rickharris6 years ago
Sigh!  you write these things but no one reads them.

astroboy9076 years ago
Very very basic version. NPN type (one of the most common) transistors, if you put a current to the base terminal, a larger, proportionate current flow through the collector to the emitter. PNP (another most common) (I think, correct me if I am wrong), if you put current on the base terminal, the amount of current gets less the more current you put on the base (Inversely proportional to the base current). So if you put current on the base of a PNP type transistor, less current flows between the collector and emitter. You can get a whole lot more complicated than this with ratings and holes and semiconductor theory. I wont go there mostly because I dont understand a thing about it yet :)
76543216 years ago
If it's NPN, current at the base allows current to flow through the other pins (proportional to the voltage/current at base), PNP is the opposite.
kelseymh6 years ago
No, that isn't correct. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor
orksecurity6 years ago
Do you mean "how does it work" or "how does it behave"? Those are somewhat different questions.