The History Center conducted a video oral history with Earl Bakken, IEEE Life Fellow and founder of Medtronic, Inc. Mr. Bakken is credited with the invention of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker, an IEEE Milestone. He came upon bio medical engineering while studying engineering in college. Medtronic was founded in 1949 by Bakken and the late Palmer J. Hermundslie, his brother-in-law. Since developing the first wearable external cardiac pacemaker in 1957 and manufacturing the first reliable long-term implantable pacing system in 1960, Medtronic has been one of the world's leading producers of pacing technology.
Earl and Palmer became well-acquainted with doctors and nurses throughout the Midwest - among them the staff members of medical research laboratories. Frequently, the research teams asked Medtronic engineers to modify equipment or design and produce new devices needed for special tests. This lead to the development of the pacemaker by Bakken and Dr. Walter Lillihei. They realized the pacemakers during that time were powered only by AC and could fail during power failures.
In this oral history Bakken discusses his career and why IEEE, and in particular the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society was so important to him throughout his career.
In this Oral History, Earl Bakken discusses why the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society was so important to him throughout his career. Mr. Bakken is credited with the invention of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker, an IEEE Milestone.