What came first, solid state devices or vacuum tubes? I know vacuum tubes are old but I don't know if they came in after solid state had been developed and then replaced when solid state devices got better.
That is a tricky question, technically. Diodes were made with quartz and a point contact, so that is a solid state device (loosely). These diodes were used in radio receivers with no amplification. However, tubes came well before transistors.
Wikipedia would probably settle this best.
Clyde, thanks for the response! So, solid state electronics came first in the strict definition, but solid state as we know it now with transistors came later. Is that right?
Yes, That is how I see it. Lee DeForest invented the tube (which was nothing more than a diode) in the early 1900's IIRC, then Armstrong, the inventor of FM, added the control grid, a third element and made an amplifier.
This is a better source of information on Electronics.