Monsanto MV1 LED  
Written by AnubisTTP on 2010-05-30  



The Monsanto MV1, released in 1968, is considered by most LED collectors to be the world's first commercially produced visible light emitting diode. As can be expected, the MV1 bears only a loose resemblance to a modern epoxy-packaged LED. The semiconductor material is packaged in a gold plated metal can, similar to the TO-18 can packages used for many transistors. There is no reflector as seen in later LEDs. The diode die is mounted directly to a characteristic 'anvil head' contact surface in the bottom of the package, a technique that can be seen in many first generation LEDs. Under magnification, the GaAsP emitting sector can be seen as a circular void surrounded by an upper contact that covers all of the unused space on the top of the die. As expected, the MV1 is a very dim light source, and is barely visible under normal indoor lighting.

It should be noted that until relatively recently, many collectors falsely identified this device as a Monsanto MV2. This is inaccurate: the MV2, though packaged similarly, is a green-emitting LED device.


Monsanto MV1 LED
Monsanto MV1 LED, normal operation. The MV1 is widely considered to be the worlds first commercially produced visible LED.

Monsanto MV1 LED Die
Monsanto MV1 LED at 30x magnification.

Monsanto MV1 LED Packaging
Early on, Monsanto MV1's were packaged in clamshell cases such as this.

Monsanto MV1 LED Package
A later version of Monsanto's LED packaging.

Monsanto MV1 factory defects
These rare samples from the Monsanto assembly line show various ways in which the MV1 manufacturing process could go awry. The rightmost example was actually dropped on the floor by a worker before the epoxy could finish curing...amazingly, the LED die still lights despite the mechanical trauma.

Monsanto MV1 LED Wafer
Unlit, the 'anvil head' contact is clearly visible.

Monsanto MV1 LED with power applied.

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