“A little wafer of adulterated silicon which converts sunlight directly into electrical energy was unveiled last month by Bell Telephone Laboratories. This solar battery is an outgrowth of transistor research. It works at an efficiency of 6 percent. Bell scientists believe that the figure can be raised to 10 percent. The device is not likely to replace large-scale power plants—a 30,000 kilowatt battery would cover some 100 acres—but the company expects it to be useful as a small power source for such applications as rural telephone systems.”
—Scientific American, June 1954
More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our shiny anniversary page.