In Memory of Genrich Altshuller, Part 2

Ellen Domb
The TRIZ Institute

On the morning of September 24, 1998, we received the sad news that Genrich Saulovich Altshuller had passed away. We invited the readers of The TRIZ Journal to share their thoughts on Altshuller’s life, on his work, and for those who knew him personally to share anecdotes of their experiences. The first installment was published in the Oct. 1, 1998 issue of The TRIZ Journal. The second group of comments is compiled here. We will combine all the comments in a document for Altshuller’s family.

Memories and Tributes:

I was saddened by Altshuller's passing. Altshuller leaves behind a rich legacy, despitethe obstacles presented by the former Soviet system.

Tony Rizzo,
Lucent, USA

Some history:

Till 1990 Altshuller lived in Baku and didn't complain on any inconvenience or discomfort in his life. Only when in January 1990 the notable Baku events started (the clashes between the Azerbaijanians and the Armenians - the "pogroms") - he said it was not possible to continue living there more. Then all who knew him agreed: "If even (sic!) Altshuller says it is not possible to live there - that means it is really not possible!".Then the TRIZ Association assisted him to move to Petrozavodsk in a few months.

Yakov Skir

Sans avoir jamais rencontré personnellement Genrich Saoulovitch, je me considère quand même comme un disciple de deuxième génération.

Il y a très longtemps que j'ai compris que ses idées méritaient la plus large diffusion.

C'est pourquoi j'ai consacré toute mon énergie à les faire connaitre en France.

Entre autres résultats : le "Projet TRIZ" lancé à l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers apportera une contribution française à son mémorial.

Adieu, Maître !

Avraam Sérédinski
Chef de "Projet TRIZ", ENSAM France

This is a short history of my relationships with H.Altshuller. In 1973 I've developed an Artificial Intelligence shell for generation of novel concepts in engineering, mainly in computer algorithms (signal detection, radioastronomy etc). At that time the main approach was based on mathematics (later called mathematical effects), but more broad knowledge base was needed. Altshuller's book, Algorithm of Invention, inspired an idea to add TRIZ rules to existing knowledge base. I wrote a letter to H.A. in 1975, got a lot of help and a lot of papers from him. Also I begun teaching TRIZ in Minsk for PhD students (until 1989).

Personally I met H.A. first time in 1984, and several times in 1985-91. He was a great teacher, very good science-fiction writer with a lot of novel ideas. His main invention, TRIZ, reflects his romantic style in the research, which wasn't supported by academia or universities, alas, but his informal students liked the idea of creating inventions by rules not by chaotic trial and error method. Altshuller actually created his own, invisible college with hundreds of followers and supporters, who continue to distribute TRIZ ideas all over the world.

Val Tsourikov
Invention Machine Corp., USA

An undescribable pain invade my entire body as I learn from Altshuller's passing. I'm finishing my Ph.D. on TRIZ and Altshuller was a night and day enlightenment for my research activities. Now, as his definition of ideality, he will not exist physically but! I'm convinced his ideas and work will soon reach eternity. My only contact with him was on the phone (with an interpreter and his wife between us) about four month ago. I confess it was one of the most intense moment of my professional life.


I spoke this morning with his wife — Alex Selioutsky in Petrosavodsk. She said that October 15 is the day of G. Altshuller's birthday will be Altshuller's Day every year to come. A celebration of his life.

The Promises

Genrich Saulovich Altshuller was a unique person.
He was unique not just because he developed an amazing science.
He was unique because he never asked for anything in return.
He never said, "Give me."
He always said, "Take this."

My first introduction to his science was in 1961. In a remote construction site, the Bratsk Hydropower station in Siberia, I read his first book, "How to Learn to Invent." My first encounter with Altshuller was 27 seven years later, in 1988, when I sent him a letter asking for his permission to translate his book, "Algorithm of Innovation." In return, he sent me a package of six books published over the last 15 years. Among these books was "And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared," published in 1987 under his pen name, G. Altov. This book made a tremendous impression on me, and I decided that it would be the best book for Westerners to read. I asked Altshuller for his permission to translate it into English.

Within a year, in 1989, one of Altshuller’s disciples and followers, Isak Bukhman, from Riga Latvia, USSR brought to me a paper from Altshuller. This paper was supposed to permit me to translate and publish this book. The surprise was that there was nothing written on the paper except his signature and the stamp of the TRIZ Association. I asked Isaac, "What does this mean?" He answered, "Altshuller said that I can write on this paper whatever I feel is right."

He trusted me. Even though he didn’t know me, he did not think about himself. He blindly gave his permission, believing that I would do it honestly, that I would treat him fairly. I have never forgotten, nor will I ever forget, this act of selflessness.

Two days before his passing, we spoke about his Institute, here in America. I told him that people from all over the world have expressed a desire to participate in its formation and to become active members. He was very excited and pleased with its progress, and asked me to keep him informed.

In tribute to his memory and to his contribution to mankind, I promise to work diligently to insure that the Altshuller Institute is a success. We will carry out the mandate of making the Altshuller Institute for TRIZ Studies the recognized focal point and standard bearer of technical creativity. We will strive to insure that TRIZ is accepted as a science, and that Genrich Altshuller is globally recognized as its founder.

Lev Shulyak

With a deep sense of sorrow I have learnt of Genrich Altshuller's passing away. I knew him only through the Triz website which I discovered recently. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Subash K Bijlani
Magnus Engineers Pvt Ltd, India