The Golden Age of SF (also known as the Golden Age of Astounding) is generally taken to be from 1939 to the early 1950s and is essentially the period beginning when John W. Campbell assumed the editorship of Astounding and lifted SF out of the pulps, and ending when a new generation of modern prozines (IF, F&SF, and Galaxy) arose and successfully challenged ASF and Campbell.
Major SF authors generally considered to be part of the Golden Age include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, L. Sprague de Camp, Hal Clement, Robert A. Heinlein, C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner, Frederik Pohl, Eric Frank Russell, and A. E. van Vogt. Towards the end of the era writers such as Poul Anderson, Alfred Bester, James Blish, Arthur C. Clarke, Fritz Leiber, and Theodore Sturgeon emerged.
There is a widely-quoted catchphrase, "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12"....because that's a particularly great age to encounter the genre. The phrase is attributed to Peter Graham (though he said it was age 13) in about 1960.
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