In Memory of Genrich Altshuller, Part 1

Ellen Domb
The TRIZ Institute


On the morning of September 23, 1998, we received the following e-mail from Lev Shulyak at the Altshuller Institute:

Subject: In memory of Genrich Saulovich Altshuller
It is with deepest regret and sympathy that I must inform the followers of TRIZ that Genrich S. Altshuller passed away this morning, approximately 10:30 AM, EST this 24th of September 1998. Please check the Institute website --- ---- for any additional details. All that we know is that the end came suddenly and peacefully in the presence of his family.

Genrich Altshuller’s own words tell us why he has had such a powerful influence on so many people all over the world:

"I got my first patent while in the tenth grade. Later there were other inventions. I worked at the patent office and had meetings with different inventors. I became more and more interested in the mechanics of creativity. How were inventions made? What happens in the head of the inventor?" (From And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared.)

"Although people who had achieved a great deal in science and technology talked of the inscrutability of creativity, I was not convinced and disbelieved them immediately and without argument. Why should everything but creativity be open to scrutiny? What kind of process can this be which unlike all others is not subject to control?…What can be more alluring than the discovery of the nature of talented thought and converting this thinking from occasional and fleeting flashes into a powerful and controllable fire of knowledge." (From Creativity as an Exact Science)

Altshuller devoted his creativity to understanding creativity and innovation, and to the work of organizing the research to make the process that we now know as TRIZ teachable and learnable. The decades of research by Altshuller and his students and colleagues have made it possible people world-wide to become systematic creative thinkers.

Many people who have known Genrich Altshuller, and many others who never met him but have had their lives changed because of his influence, would like to share their thoughts. We will print these for the next few months, then compile all the comments and send them to his family. Please send your memorial comments to:

Memories and Tributes:

Is it possible to prove that the impossible is possible? Altshuller did it. His major contribution to the evolution of humanity was that he proved that creativity is a feature everyone of us possesses. And he did not limit himself to just finding a proof - he created tools which help to awake, control, and use our creativity with the highest degree of effectiveness. Undoubtedly, Altshuller was one of the most outstanding people of the century.

Once I phoned to an engineer who took training in TRIZ to find out about his progress with TRIZ:

"Have you ever used TRIZ since taking the course?"

"Oh, yes, many times", replied the engineer.

"Do you have any problems with using TRIZ"?

"Yes! The problem is, it looks like TRIZ became a part of our everyday thinking. And now we can't even think about problems without TRIZ!".

Valeri Souchkov
Insytec B.V.

In my 18 years as a software engineer and manager at Bell Laboratories and Motorola, I have been lucky to work on interesting benchmarking, process improvement, technology transfer, and creativity-oriented initiatives. However, none of these programs have uniquely changed my perspective on engineering and creativity, and indeed, the world in general, as much as TRIZ. People who know me now consider me as someone who views the world through "TRIZ-colored glasses." Altshuller's work has changed my life. He was to the creativity and problem solving domains what W. Edwards Deming was to the quality improvement domain. Altshuller's impact will be felt for years to come. Coincidence that the middle name we had already chosen for our baby boy, due in October, is Henry, the American version of Genrich? I think not.

Maria B. Thompson
Motorola Intellectual Property Department

The legacy Genrich Saulovich Altshuller leaves behind will long maintain its importance. The understanding of innovation that he has imparted to mankind is priceless and earns for him a place with the greatest thinkers of history. I am indebted to his work as a student, inventor, and man.

Dr. Michael S. Slocum
The Inventioneering Company

I feel very sad to receive your e-mail.

I had known Dr. Altshuller about fifteen years ago in a Japanese magazine. And I found his TRIZ. I have great respect for his theory and his practice. It is with deep sadness for me to lose Dr. Altshuller. His theory gives me theoretical hints to solve problems. Thank you Dr. Altshuller.


I would like to make a citation from the first letter I got from Genrich S. Altshuller in December 1984. He wrote: "Last 5-7 let TRIZ became much more powerful, our students began to resolve more difficult problems and get more unexpected (bold, wild) solutions. A new problem appeared: a person should not be afraid of "wild" ideas, is necessary that he can fight for these ideas."

It was in 1984. Altshuller had the capability to see the future. He began to develop the methodology that he later named TRIZ, in 1940s. In 1980s TRIZ already existed, and existed Altshuller´s school. But Altshuller already knew that this is not enough. He already had begun to develop the Life Strategy of the Creative Person.

The capability to foresee the future. And not only skills to foresee, but also the capability to fight for the future. That Altshuller showed and taught to us.

Kalevi Rantanen

We are sad to report the death of G. Altshuller on 24 September 1998, at the age of 72.

This man was the leading figure in the development of the methodology that eventually led to Invention Machine's unique products and we salute his lifetime of achievement, innovation, and original thought. He leaves this life having added tremendously to sum of human knowledge and will be sadly missed professionally by IMC and personally by those who had the honor to have worked with him.

Matt Shumway
Invention Machine Company

The message today told that the founder of TRIZ, Genrich S. Altshuller has passed away yesterday, in Thursday September 24, 1998. Altshuller was born in 1926. He begun in 1940s to develope the methodology that he later named TRIZ. In 1980s and in 1990s he studied and developed the Life Strategy of the Creative Person - the methodology for the realization of ideas.

Sergey V. Sychyov

With deepest regret, I have learned that Genrich S. Altshuller, the creator of TRIZ, passed away. The TRIZ family has lost its Father. On the morning of September 24, 1998. Altshuller had been working on a letter and discussing it with his family, when he suddenly died. On October 15, 1998 he would have been 73. Funeral services will be on September 29 in Petrozavodsk Cemetery in 2 PM Moscow time.

Altshuller was one of the greatest thinkers of the century. He was a very determined person. He was determined to pave the way for a new way of thinking regarding problems in innovation. It was a noble goal. Altshuller sacrificed many great opportunities in his life that would have given him wealth. He preferred TRIZ Unfortunately, Altshuller almost had no support from Soviet Union authorities. But Altshuller and his science were supported by his many enthusiastic followers.

TRIZ has changed the lives of many Alshuller's followers and TRIZ users. TRIZ has helped them to be much more creative and improved effectiveness of their work and results.

I met Altshuller at a TRIZ conferences in Petrozavodsk. I kept in touch with him through correspondence. I was fascinated by Altshuller. I was the manager of TRIZ training and publishing in the Kishinev TRIZ School, the first TRIZ School to present those who completed a 200-hour course with certificates signed by Altshuller, without him teaching the course. It was also an honor to be the first publisher of Altshuller's last book, which he wrote together with Igor Vertkin.

The importance of Altshuller's work has been highly praised by people familiar with TRIZ. His fame will continue to grow along with the rapidly growing number of people benefiting from using TRIZ.

The Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies ( has been founded to promote TRIZ and memorialize Altshuller's priceless work, which he literally gifted to the world.

The memory of Altshuller as a great person, inventor, writer, scientist, will leave in the hearts of his followers and TRIZ users.

Zinovy Royzen
TRIZ Consulting

I never have met G.S. Altshuller, but his books changed my life. The effect of the first Althuller's book that I read was like if anybody suddenly switched on light in dark room and I could clear see the things which were hidden in darkness. Since this moment my life was connected with TRIZ.

Gregory Frenklach

On behalf of the QFD Institute and the International Council for QFD, let me express our sincerest sympathies to all who knew and loved Dr. Altshuller.

His teachings have touched us all, adding vigor to our lives, both at home and at work. He will be truly missed.

Glenn Mazur
QFD Institute
USA and International QFD Council

I would like to tell a few words on the force of Altshuller's influence on people. Imagine: he built the TRIZ movement when he had no tools of direct influence on his followers: he didn't pay them salary, he didn't have option to fire them. And yet, what do you think was the hardest punishment of Altshuller for those who, for instance, behave not fairly? His hardest punishment was: to erase your name from his notebook. That means, you don't receive his letters more...

Yakov Skir

Celebration of the Life of Genrich Altshuller

The most influential writer in the history of writing, Homer, described Genrich Altshuller when he wrote these immortal words:

"And what he greatly thought, he nobly dared."

But the world knows nothing of its greatest men. The heights that they reached were not attained by sudden flight. While their companions could only marvel, they toiled upward in the night of the unknowable, striving to make it knowable - for all to benefit. Altshuller was such a man.

John Donne wrote that "Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know ‘for whom the bell tolls’; It tolls for thee." Even more so does the passing of Genrich Altshuller touch us all. He dedicated his life to a cause that dramatically raised - and continues to raise - the level of society. He initiated, and carried through, a revolution. He accomplished this task with all the odds against him, at every turn in his career. In this respect, he is the ultimate example of the "creative personality" that he studied and introduced in his writings.

Genrich Altshuller has completed his role; nevertheless, he will be sorely missed. Sir Walter Scott warmly observes:

"And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O, for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!"

But what of us who remain? We shall continue to meet, but we shall also miss him. There will be one vacant chair; It would be difficult - no, it is impossible - for anyone to sit in that chair. We shall linger to caress him, when we breathe a grateful prayer.

It is for others who were his closest friends to reminisce about their personal relationships with him. I never knew him personally, but I know him well, by his results - by his creative output - by his dedication to the truth, and to the betterment of the world as a place in which to live.

I dedicate this touching little poem by Hafiz to the memory of Genrich Altshuller.

"Little sleeper, the spring is here;
Tulip and rose will come again,
Only you in the earth remain,
Sleeping, dear.

Little sleeper, the spring is here;
I, like a cloud of April rain,
Am bending over your grave in vain,
Weeping, dear.

Little flower, the spring is here;
What if my tears were not in vain!
What if they drew you up again,
Little Flower!"

Genrich Altshuller has been "drawn up again" - forever to flower and decorate the landscape of the present and of the future - in each of us, and in our children. He resides in our minds, in our experiences, in our capabilities, and most importantly, he will continue to reside in our hearts. May he have a safe journey.

James Kowalick
Renaissance Leadership Institute

Dr. Altshuller was a giant. We are fortunate to have had such a leader mong us. Like a precious few others, he taught us that we need to do more with less. The central theme of a "contradiction" being the answer rather than a cue to engage in "trades" ... The discipline of a lifetime of bringing ideas to others is something that speaks to what is best in mankind, a prayer for the future.

Dr. James Edward Charles McMunigal

Since my first exposure to TRIZ in 1989, I have often contemplated the amazing contributions of Genrich Altshuller, his arduous formative years in Soviet labor camps, and the global impact he has made with TRIZ. Once again, like Einstein, a man who worked in a patent office has given the world a beacon for breakthrough concepts. Eventually, as the world comprehends and appreciates his legacy, he will receive the acclaim he so richly deserves. Altshuller was to problem solving what Mozart was to music, what Deming was to quality. Today, his passing is mourned, but the elegance of TRIZ which he has bequeathed the world lives on. Mankind was truly blessed by his genius.

Mr. Lee Petersen
Melroe - Ingersoll Rand USA

Boris Zlotin
Ideation International Inc.

My first contact with Mr. Altshuller occurred by way of his book Algorithm of Invention in 1974. As it happened, this was the first link in a chain of changes in my life. We spent much time together after that, which I enjoyed immensely -- conducting seminars, having long discussions, writing books. I have carefully preserved seven volumes of our correspondence and I read it often. Mr. Altshuller started something much bigger than one human life can embrace, and I am grateful to him for the opportunity to become a part of it.

Vladimir Gerasimov
Ideation International Inc.

Creation is a world. I am deeply grateful that many years ago I met Altshuller, the man that discovered this world for me.

Alla Zusman
Ideation International Inc.

I have tried many times to understand what my life would be without Altshuller’s impact, and each time I have failed. But I know this: I was very fortunate to have met him and witnessed so many incredible moments. Thankfully, these moments could be shared with others who loved him as much as I did. And indeed, many who never met him were equally impacted by his life and discoveries. There is a wonderful custom in American culture to call this last event a "Celebration of Life." It was a great life of a great man.

Kirill Sklobovskiy
Ideation International Inc.

After first meeting Altshuller during a seminar in the winter of 1985, TRIZ was transformed for me from a hobby that enhanced my fairly boring work to my primary pursuit, filling my life with a new and profound meaning. TRIZ empowered my intellectual capabilities significantly. TRIZ gave me a vision.

Len Kaplan
Ideation International Inc.

Henry Altshuller invented my future. Unfortunately, I did not manage to be on his seminars, and my personal communication with him was too limited. But in assessing his impact on my life I realize that the highest ideality was achieved: less then a month of personal communication significantly influenced half of my life, which has been greatly determined by his ideas and visions. Many people have influenced my life, but none can compete with Altshuller's impact.

Sergey Malkin
Ideation International Inc.

Altshuller’s Simferopol TRIZ seminar will always stand as the most exciting event in my life. While talking about the creative personality, he presented us with the following problem: how can a creative individual transmit his or her achievements to future generations? He did not provide us with a predetermined answer. Only now, when he is no longer with us, am I able to understand that the answer lies in the daily work in TRIZ that we – his disciples and followers – carry out. A non-destructible, self-reproducing, ideal means of information transfer. This is the task Altshuller gave us, and I believe we are fulfilling it.

Gafur and Inlik Zainiev
Ideation International Inc.

Genrich Altshuller did for us what Columbus did for the Europeans. He discovered a New World where we feel as if we are the First Pioneers in America. All the rest of our lives we will be among those who bless his memory.

Zion Bar-El
President, CEO and founder of
Ideation International Inc

When I first heard about Mr. Altshuller’s discoveries, I was in disbelief. Since then and for the past five years I have been a believer. My life has changed, my way of thinking is altered and, most of all, knowing of Altshuller’s creation has become a daily joy. TRIZ and Altshuller are a language that I communicate. They fill the air, touching everyone.

When I called Altshuller several years ago to wish him a Happy Birthday, I was hoping to meet him by the year 2000. Unfortunately, our crossing paths have been cut short. He will stay in our hearts forever.

Dr. Mark Barkan
Ideation International Inc

I never met Altshuller, nor did I speak with him by phone. However, if it were not for this man, I would never have discovered why I am so different from most people. Why can’t I be satisfied with the daily routine? Why do I need something new all the time? TRIZ gave me the insight! TRIZ, by way of Ideation, has provided me the opportunity to work with different technological systems and, therefore, to learn and to give something new every day!

I was always looking for the root cause of every event. TRIZ shows the quickest way to find it!

Dana W. Clarke, Sr., TRIZ Specialist
Manager of Training and Development
Ideation International Inc.

It is a shame that most of the world never knew Genrich Altshuller, who was not only a visionary but a man of action. This brilliant man’s work has changed my life and will someday touch all of mankind.

Jack Hipple
Ideation International Inc.

To those of us who were trained in other creativity techniques, which lack a scientific foundation, Altshuller's TRIZ presented a true paradigm shift in our thinking. Not only has TRIZ enhanced my own creativity and innovation skills, but also those of every organization I have worked with.

Victoria Roza
Ideation International

Since I began working with TRIZ, not a single day has passed that I have not been in reverent awe of Genrich Altshuller. He is greatly revered by those whom I revere, and I am honored to be involved, even peripherally, with his legacy.