On the history of the concept of ideal substance in TRIZ

Once at a meeting of OLMI (The Public Laboratory for Inventive Creativity) in his apartment Altshuller handed us out a manuscript by Boris Goldovsky from the city which back then was called Gorky. The manuscript introduced the notion of "ideal substance" and discussed its possible use in problem solving. Goldovsky defined ideal substance as a substance that has just the required properties and does not have others (especially harmful ones).

Gorin said that this is impossible. I objected that IFR is also impossible but still a useful tool in TRIZ. Altshuller objected to my objection by saying that IFR is useful because systems evolve to it (even though they never achieve it), but substances do not evolve to the ideal substance.

Nevertheless the idea had some charm. Eventually the contradiction "I love the term but don't like its content" was resolved by separation: the term entered TRIZ but the content did not. Altshuller and others started using the term despite they meant by it not what Goldovsky meant. His manuscript was never cited and his authorship of the term has not become known beyond OLMI.

The Altshuller Prize Committee decided to restore the historical justice and award this year Altshuller Prize to Goldovsky for his role in the proposing and developing the idea of ideal substance.