RIP Stanford Ovshinsky — inventor with an eye on energy and communication

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5 Responses to “RIP Stanford Ovshinsky — inventor with an eye on energy and communication”

  1. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Didn’t Ovshinsky lament at one point that he’d foolishly sold the rights to produce his more recent battery technologies to companies that failed to bring them to market effectively?  He was severely disappointed by the whole EV-1 fiasco, too, wasn’t he?

    • Kommkast says:

      He went into a deal with a large oil company and they endd up pulling the carpet out from under the whole thIng… My mom actually created the machines that made those batteries.

  2. pizzicato says:

    I read up a bit about his invention because I was once a shareholder of ECD… 

    Imagine before NiMH battery were available, you have to NiCd, and I don’t have to say much about Cadmium. He also invented a type of programmable ROM which uses phase change material that changes resistance with application of heat due to its crystalline structure, it has potential but seems always never quite close to commercial viability.

     Much has also been said about those roll to roll flexible solar cell with steel substrate, again the low efficiency of amorphous silicon cell wasn’t a problem if you can see pass their better performance at higher latitude, often dull cloudy condition, where it does better than polysilicon cell. 

    And yup those Thin Film Transistors you’re starring at right now.

  3. ArmchairAstronomer says:

    I worked for the company Stan founded, ECD, for about 3 years around the time he “left to pursue other opportunities” (corporate code for “was forced out”). It WAS the ultimate maker paradise. Buildings full of scientific equipment and machine tools. Stan was trained as a  toolmaker and he loved all of that stuff. And, he had an uncanny understanding of the periodic table and the properties of materials. In reality it was all too much to keep control of and so in the end not much of anything got done. Plus, Stan kept making deals with big companies that didn’t have the same passion for the products he did. Often times they just tried to bury it as in Sony and the amorphous CD/DVD technology. The Chevron (Cobasys) NiMH relationship is a study in how two companies can work against one another in a partnership so neither succeeds. I need to write the book but I don’t think I have the heart to relive it all again.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Plus, Stan kept making deals with big companies that didn’t have the same passion for the products he did.

      That’s exactly the impression I got from the outside.  It seemed like he wanted to get the technology into the hands of giant companies that had the capital to mass produce them rapidly, but those companies always turned out to have vested interests that might be harmed by these disruptive new technologies so they never really wanted to push them – once their initial enthusiasm wore off, they’d realize they could just do nothing at all at no risk to their bottom line, since they’d bought the rights to production.  I wonder what would have happened if Ovshinsky had gone with less exclusive licensing arrangements…

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