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The Man Who Saw TomorrowThe Life and Inventions of Stanford R. Ovshinsky$
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Lillian Hoddeson and Peter Garrett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037532

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037532.001.0001

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Information: Displays and Memory Devices (1981–2007)

Information: Displays and Memory Devices (1981–2007)

(p.209) 10 Information: Displays and Memory Devices (1981–2007)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

Lillian Hoddeson

Peter Garrett

The MIT Press

Adapting the thin-film technology developed in its solar energy program, ECD became a pioneer in making flat panel displays. Its subsidiary Ovonic Imaging Systems enjoyed some success in this area, but in time the display industry was taken over by the giant Japanese and Korean electronics companies. Commercializing Ovshinsky’s invention of phase-change memory also went slowly. The company first developed chalcogenide alloys for faster optical memories, used in rewritable CDs and DVDs. At Ovshinsky’s urging, the same alloy was used in an electrical phase-change memory, which advanced to the point where a new company, Ovonyx, was begun to develop its promise for use in computers. One other promising information technology, a “cognitive computer” whose architecture modeled that of the human brain, never reached fruition because the program was terminated by ECD at the time Ovshinsky was pushed out.

Keywords:   flat panel displays, phase-change memory, chalcogenide alloys, optical memories, electrical phase-change memory, Ovonyx, cognitive computer

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