Walter Houser Brattain was born in Amoy, China, however, he spent his early childhood in Springfield, Oregon and Washington. He grew up in Washington state farm of his parents, Ross R. Brattain and Ottilie Houser. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics at Whitman College in Walla Walla in Washington in 1924. At the University of Minnesota won in 1926 and a master’s degree in 1929 at the same university Ph.D. in physics.
In the years 1928 - 1929 he worked at the National Bureau of Weights and Measures (National Bureau of Standards) in Washington, D.C. In 1929 he joined Bell Labs in New Jersey. Brattainův research at Bell Labs before World War II are first concerned the physics of surface tungsten. During World War II he devoted himself to the development of methods for the detection of submarines Columbia University. After the war he returned to Bell Labs and joined a group led by William Shockley.
Since the beginning of 1946 led by William Shockley Semiconductor research chief for the creation of a practical amplifier.
Their joint research led in 1947 to the discovery of a tip of the transistor. For this discovery received in 1956 Brattain, John Bardeen and William Shockley Nobel Prize in physics.