While this industry is typically thought of as providing a product that is a "necessary evil," it must be extremely important to generate that type of revenue. Instead of the "necessary evil" perception that this industry is given, power electronics is in fact the great enabler of the overall electronics industry.
Another article on EDN today looks at milestones in the power market, going back over 50 years to 1954 when Motorola's Dan Noble brought the first germanium power transistor to market. Other milestones include the silicon controlled rectifier, or thyristor; the planar process; Carver Mead's work which led to the Schottky diode; the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) developed at General Electric; and several developments from the 1990's such as Li-ion batteries, and integrated power conversion ICs. It's worth taking a look at EDN today, as they have contributed articles from three influential people in power: PWM controller expert Robert Mammano; Patrizio Vinciarelli, founder of Vicor and creator of the high-density dc-dc converter bricks; and Alex Lidow of International Rectifier, the first firm to successfully commercialise the Mosfet.