This introduction offers a brief account of Ovshinsky’s career. It outlines his development from machinist and toolmaker to independent inventor and notes how his work on automation, including his study of cybernetics and neurophysiology, led to his most important discovery of the “Ovshinsky effect,” using amorphous thin films. This switching effect was used to create semiconductor devices like his threshold switch and phase-change memory. After sketching Ovshinsky’s later career as the director of his own research and development laboratory, ECD, the introduction considers the source of Ovshinsky’s scientific and technological creativity in the thought processes of his self-educated, intuitive mind, which relied heavily on the use of analogies and visualization. It concludes by briefly considering how Ovshinsky’s work is related to his social-historical context, in particular, how his inventive career spans the transition from the industrial to the information age, making distinctive contributions to both.
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