"All unknown," - said Leon Trotsky about the list of the allegedly "active participants" of the Bolshevik Revolution compiled by Stalin. Having looked at the list of people allegedly made outstanding contribution to TRIZ and deserving the title of TRIZ master, I nearly repeated Trotsky's words.
But wait a moment, there are familiar faces in the list. And some of them contributed something. But how come that there are so many people that contributed nothing ? And where did people disappear that contributed most ?
The riddle, which may never will be solved. Was this list the product of a sick brain or of a cunning brain ? Or was it a by-product of the Maestro's last commercial exercise ? The answers to these questions may never will be known.
But anyway, we are left with the list and can put it to any use. The purpose of this article is to scrutinize it.
I started studying and working with G.S. Altshuller in the fall of 1973. Soon after he invited me to become a member of the TRIZ research group (OLMI). At the time I joined the group, it consisted of Altshuller, Shahmatov, Mageramov, Gorin, Hotimlyansky, Flikstein, and Skrotsky. I was invited along with G. Filkovsky.
We met regularly at Altshuller's apartment every week. The meetings were open and the members sometimes brought along their friends and acquaintances. Thus, it is difficult to remember all occasional attendees but I definitely remember that Amnuel was not amongst them.
Shahmatov and Mageramov being professors at The Baku Polytechnique Institute, stopped attending in 1975 when Altshuller ran into a conflict with the authorities in Moscow. The vacancies at the meetings were filled out by the visiting from time to time Asinovsky, Karash, and Rubin. Soon after Flikstein and Skrotsky dropped out (Skrotsky due to an ethical conflict with Altshuller). In 1978 Hotimlyansky left Soviet Union for the US. By this time, the relations between Altshuller and Gorin got strained due to Gorin's growing independence and he disappeared from the meetings as well. In 1979 Filkovsky left Baku for Israel but Rubin started visiting Altshuller on a regular basis. In 1980 Asinovsky left Baku for the US, I moved from Baku to Tashkent, and Karash also dropped out. Altshuller was left alone, with Rubin.
But where is Amnuel ? Here is the problem. I never met him during all these crucial for TRIZ years. Being already in Canada, I learned from a web site that he was the author of the course on development of creative imagination (RTV) based on the science fiction literature. No doubt it is true but RTV is something auxiliary (not to say alien) to TRIZ. Nobody in the group shared Altshuller's passion for science fiction and RTV. I personally never read Amnuel's course notes. All this came from the early years of TRIZ development when it was a mixture of everything. But by the 1970s Altshuller already understood that either he develops a science of innovation or he develops the stimulators of creative imagination and made his choice. That is probably why Amnuel never appeared at the meetings of the group. But passion was passion and in his backyard, Altshuller continued to work on RTV and resort to the services of Amnuel.
Was a student at AzOIIT in the same group (?) as Filkovsky and me. Never did any research work on TRIZ in the 1970s. Do not remember him ever visiting our meetings at Altshuller's apartment. Left Baku for Voronezh in the late 1970s. Remember him as a strong TRIZ sympathizer and a good guy. His contribution to TRIZ is unknown to me.
A TRIZ activist/organizer/teacher in his city.
A TRIZ activist in his city.
From July 1980 to July 1981, I lived in Tashkent but a couple of times visited Baku. During one of the visits, I went to Altshuller. In his apartment I met a very impudent guy who seemed to lack any intelligence. I was surprised to see Altshuller in the company of such a person. This never happened before.
When he left, Altshuller to my surprise told: "Igor Vertkin, very talented. But will he become productive ? From being talented to being productive is quite a distance."
The next time I met Vertkin was a few years later. Altshuller's son just passed away and people came to Altshuller
to mark the seventh day after the death of his son. I also came.
We rode to the graveyard in a bus and Vertkin sat beside me.
- What are you working on ? - he asked.
- On some mathematical problems - I answered.
- Why ? - he asked unfriendly.
- Just for the sake of interest.
- For the sake of interest one should f...k girls ! But to work one should for the sake of a business !
- Well, the first part I leave to you, - I replied with disgust having understood the intellectual level of my interlocutor.
- And I do this ! - Vertkin suddenly shouted.
- Women feel terrible pain when they are in labour ! Here is the problem which one should work on ! - he continued to shout.
The last phrase awoke in me the memory of one of my first encounters with Altshuller. "All these relativity theories and quantum mechanics are not so important for the mankind." - he told me once apparently so that to dump my interest in physics, - "They are like an ivory fan for a man dying of hunger." "And what is important ?" - I inquired with curiosity. "Listen to me," - he told, - "it is difficult for women to be in labour. They feel terrible pain. There are no means to eliminate it. Believe me, this problem is much more important for the mankind than any problem in the contemporary physics."
That time I thought that Altshuller was joking. But now facing Vertkin repeating his words, I did not know what to be astonished at first. Whether at where Altshuller found such a lovely parrot or at the fact that that was not a joke !
A TRIZ activist in his city.
(deserves a separate story)
The TRIZ activists/teachers in their cities. Do not know what they contributed to TRIZ.
Once Altshuller told me that he received some vague manuscript from a TRIZ teacher in Leningrad who was soliciting Altshuller's opinion about it. He offered me to take a look at the manuscript and reply to the author if I would be able to extract anything worthy from it. I took the manuscript and tried to read it at home but could not understand what it was about either, and, since Altshuller did not need it back, I threw the manuscript into the trash can. I would have forever forgotten about the manuscript had I not visited Leningrad in 1979.
During that visit I went to meet the TRIZ teachers at the TRIZ school. I was surprised to learn that my recent work on the space-time duality in the methods of invention, has been taught at the school by its head (?) Volyuslav Mitrofanov. I was pleased to hear the words of praise from him. Amongst the teachers in the room where Mitrofanov praised my work there was Boris Zlotin. When Mitrofanov left, Zlotin asked me if my work was not inspired by his some manuscript. I replied that neither ever heard of his name nor saw any of his manuscripts. "It is strange," - Zlotin said, - "Altshuller wrote me that he gave my manuscript to you."
I recollected the manuscript Altshuller once gave me and guessed that it was by Zlotin but was positive that there was nothing about the space-time duality in the manuscript. The question made bad impression on me and did not contribute to the wakening up interest in Zlotin. Since then, I was not inclined to read neither his books nor papers and do not know what he contributed to TRIZ.
The wives of Boris Zlotin.
A TRIZ teacher and organizer in his city. Wrote a dull book on TRIZ in Russian.
A TRIZ teacher and organizer in his city.
A TRIZ teacher in Leningrad. A very good guy. When I got into a hospital during my visit to Leningrad in 1979, he was the only TRIZnik who used to come to me. He also was the only person who invited me to visit his home and share a lunch. Our correspondence continued for years ...
However, our relations broke down when during my yet another visit to Leningrad in 1988, I told him that, in my opinion, Altshuller had been developing a religion rather than a science. He got upset at me and we parted...
Altshuller would have not been able to publish books without support from the certain people. Since his ideas had something to do with the psychology of thinking, the blessing from a psychologist was highly desirable. Altshuller found such a psychologist in the shape of Dr. Nina Linkova from the Institute of Psychology of the USSR Academy of Science. She, in turn, was trying to advance her academic career by establishing her "own" research area in the framework of the Institute. For the lack of her "own" ideas, Linkova tried to capitalize on TRIZ. Thus, it was a win-win alliance.
As for TRIZ contribution, Linkova contributed nothing per se. But she provided "the psychological cover" of his works, wrote supportive reviews, etc. etc. and thereby helped Altshuller to publish his works whenever he needed such help.
A TRIZ teacher in Leningrad. Do not know much about him.
A TRIZ teacher in his city. Tried to create a catalogue of chemical effects and phenomena. Do not know what principles were put into its foundation and how successful the work was.
A master of applying TRIZ at his work place. A truly TRIZ master in this sense. A great TRIZ organizer too.
TRIZ organizers and teachers in their city.
A TRIZ teacher in Leningrad.
He showed up from time to time at our meetings at Altshuller's apartment from 1975 to 1976 (since the meetings were open, and he was a student at AzOIIT). Altshuller never invited him and he used to come along with us (G. Filkovsky and me) as our acquaintance. I do not remember him ever participating in discussions at the apartment and remember him always sitting silent.
When Altshuller was ousted from AzOIIT in 1975, Rubin continued for a while to occasionally show up. Then I remember him saying in 1976 (when it seemed that Altshuller's business would never improve): "Why go to Altshuller ? I better go to Imamaliev" ( a new leader at AzOIIT - Y.K.) But nobody likes opportunists and Rubin seemingly did not get from Imamaliev what he expected.
When Altshuller's business started to improve and he managed to sign a contract on publishing "Creativity as an exact science" (in 1978 ?), Rubin re-appeared at his apartment. Probably to his surprise, Altshuller greeted him warmly. It is because by that time Altshuller alienated almost everybody of his staunch supporters and they were leaving him. Also he definitely did not know about Rubin's attempted desertion to Imamaliev's camp. This is how the traitor became Altshuller's confidant ... (An interesting method from the TRIZ prospective: a traitor should come back at the time when the last supporters are about to leave, in order to be forgiven and elevated into the rank of a confidant)
Never heard of him in USSR. Doubt that Altshuller suspected about his existence either, before Royzen moved to the US. But like Lev Shulyak, he managed to please Altshuller from abroad in the 1990s and got into the list.
They came to TRIZ too late to actually contribute anything but nevertheless, as I heard, wrote books on TRIZ. Have not read the books and do not know how good they are.
In the beginning of the 1970s, Altshuller ran into a conflict with many officials in Moscow, and the doors of Moscow's publishing houses were closed for him. Since Altshuller mostly lived from publishing books, it was a question of survival to find other publishing houses.
Selyutsky and Slugin of Petrozavodsk came to rescue. They had connections to a publishing house in Petrozavodsk. Eventually, Selyutsky became instrumental in pushing the TRIZ books through the publishing house and most of the TRIZ literature in the 1980s was published there.
I never heard that Selyutsky contributed something to TRIZ per se, but he definitely helped Altshuller to survive.
I cannot relate him to the class of "unknown" although I do not know him. He came to TRIZ after my relations with Altshuller broke down. I met him just once but we did not speak to each other. Never saw what he wrote on TRIZ and do not know what was his contribution to it.
My schoolmate and a friend as a youth. I met Altshuller for the first time at Filkovskys' apartment...
Once in the late 1970s when I was going to fly to Moscow Altshuller told me: "There is a professor in Moscow named Petrovich. He just published a book on inventiveness and inventors. Could you please visit him and request a copy ?"
- For you ? - I asked.
- Not, of course, - Altshuller replied, - for yourself.
- Why ? - I wondered.
- A while ago, he wrote me a letter requesting the materials on SuField analisys and the Standards, and I sent them to him. But he did not tell me that he was writing a book. Now I am concerned that he might have used these materials in his book, before they will be published in "Creativity as an exact science".
I satisfied Altshuller's request and being in Moscow gave Petrovich a call, told him that learned about his new book, and requested a copy. In response, Petrovich invited me to visit his apartment.
When I came he, with a smile, gave me two books.
- Why two ? - I was surprised
- One for you and another one please pass on to Altshuller, - Petrovich explained and wrote some wishes on the book that was intended for me.
After that, he asked me where I was working.
- At the Space Research Institute of the Azerbaijani Academy of Science, - I answered.
- Very well, - Petrovich said, - we are organizing a conference on space communications and I will be the chair of the section on CETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). Do you want to submit a paper ?
I replied that was not familiar with the topic but he gave me some publications and requested to read them and write something for the conference.
During the flight from Moscow back to Baku, I looked through the Petrovich book and found nothing in it what Altshuler would have not published yet. Altshuller was satisfied.
In the meantime, I wrote an abstract for the conference and in a few months travelled to Moscow again to participate in it. At the conference I met Valeri Tsourikov, a Ph.D. student of Petrovich.
I liked Valeri. He was modest, friendly, respectful. He and a couple of his friends from Belarus and I went to "Prague" restaurant. Remember him saying there that various bosses of science (academicians, professors) could not forgive Altshuller that he was a genius. Such a remark from the Russian guy was very sympathetic to me.
Valeri also told that Petrovich wanted to establish an Artificial Intelligence research group under the cover
of the search for signals from other civilizations in space (CETI).
He asked me whether I was going to join the group or not. I answered that still had not got interested in CETI.
"How are you going to obtain Ph.D. ?" - he inquired, - "by doing research in TRIZ it is impossible..."
But I really did not like CETI and did not go to the next conference. Until the second half of the 1980s, I heard nothing neither about Tsourikov nor Petrovich.
Then somebody told me that Tsourikov set up a lab on Artificial Intelligence and TRIZ in Minsk. I got immediately interested and called him. At the other end of the line, I heard the voice of an arrogant guy. A modest person whom I met in Moscow several years ago did not exist anymore. The conversation was short and ended when Tsourikov said: "Now I will show all of you!" It was not clear, however, who these "all" were, why I belonged to "them", and what he was going to show to all of "us".
About that time, I learned that Petrovich and Tsourikov published a book on TRIZ. Some TRIZniks were expressing indignation with Petrovich: why is it "Petrovich and Tsourikov" ?!!! In their opinion, it had to be just Tsourikov, or Tsourikov and Petrovich at best. They knew that Tsourikov was a TRIZnik but did not know who Petrovich was. They did not know that Petrovich published a number of popular books and had the talent of author. They could not imagine that Petrovich might have written the book on TRIZ by himself. Why then was Tsourikov amongst the authors ? - they asked. To this I used to answer that I did not know but a plausible explanation was that by including Tsourikov Petrovich was trying to prevent Altshuller from sending him another messenger to request a copy (as was the case with me in the 1970s). Nevertheless, fanatical TRIZniks continued to pour mud on Petrovich because in their opinion it was Tsourikov's book (as if Tsourikov contributed something to TRIZ or was a better writer than Petrovich !).
A few more years passed, and I found myself in Israel. Once the telephone rang and I was told that some boss named Averbukh was calling a meeting of TRIZniks in Tel Aviv. I was invited to attend. At the meeting I learned, inter alia, that Tsourikov was successfully selling some Invention Machine software in Russia. Averbukh also told that he called him so that to buy the soft, but Tsourikov replied that "this software we will never sell to you, our sworn enemies !"
A few more years passed, and I learned that Tsourikov moved to US and was selling his Invention Machine over there. Probably, US were not on Tsourikov's list of the sworn enemies.
In this respect, I think that Israel was fortunate. Because, if one measures the diversions against the American economy on the scale of 0 to 1 (where 1 is the 9/11 attack), then, in my opinion, the impact of the Invention Machine on the American economy is somewhere about 0.01. Not much, of course, for US, which has sustained much bigger diversions. However, small Israel would have definitely collapsed under the weight of the Invention Machine ! That is why she should be grateful to Tsourikov for his hatred !
All unknown except Lev Shulyak (see the info about him in my note on Zinovy Royzen).
... and all over the Island the moan is heard:" Father, why are we not like you ?"