the greatest scientist you’ve never heard of

The 17th of October 2013 will mark the first anniversary of the passing of Stanford Ovshinsky, the greatest scientist you’ve never heard of. It’s time to remedy that. 

Ovshinsky is widely unknown because fame and fortune never interested him. Nonetheless, he created a hatful of world-changing innovations. You probably own a flat screen: that was one of Ovshinsky’s. In 1968, the New York Timesfeatured one of his inventions, declaring that this new electronic switch would lead to a future where we would all have ‘small, general-purpose desktop computers for use in homes, schools and offices’, and ‘a flat, tubeless television set that can be hung on the wall like a picture’. It seemed so unpromising at the time that Ovshinsky ended up selling the license to a few, then-small Japanese companies. You might know the names: Sharp, Canon, Sony, Matsushita... No wonder Ovshinsky was later hailed as “Japan’s American genius”.