Ovshinsky’s work on energy conversion products and batteries caught my attention in 1972 and I’ve been following him ever since. He was a genius who struggled against the weight of big business’ denial of a need for a cheaper way to make electricity. Along the way he invented NiMH batteries that fixed the problem with NiCad batteries having a memory for their last charge. This was a minor invention of his. Others include a method for printing active solar panels on flexible material (used in roofing) and a device that could be placed in a large smokestack to capture waste heat and turn it into electricity. His early work on batteries for electric cars got pushed aside by GM and others because they weren’t ready to give up gasoline.
While Ovshinsky holds over 400 patents and invented things that we use every day, his story is also includes inventions that were rejected because the business world wasn’t ready to accept the kind of change that we now see tipping into more general acceptance.
One of the more amazing facts about Stanford Ovshinsky is that he was completely self taught: he never went to college or graduate school.