Medtronic Founder Earl Bakken Turned a Tiny Repair Shop Into a Giant of Medical Technology from WSJ

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I just learned about what a fascinating and inspiring man Earl Bakken was. He co-founded Medtronic in 1949 with the unassuming goal of repairing medical equipment. But in the mid-50s, a heart surgeon in Minneapolis asked Bakken to create a pacemaker that didn’t need to be plugged in, and a few weeks later, he had invented a wearable pacemaker powered by a battery. Mr. Bakken was an inventor from an early age, and his worked sustained him late into his life. Bakken died on October 21 at the age of 94, and back in 2010 he was using his second pacemaker and third or fourth insulin pump!

Please take a moment to read the lovely Wall Street Journal article that commemorates Bakken’s life. I found this part especially interesting:

He worried that children no longer take gadgets apart. Even engineers “never get the sense of the actual object they’re designing on a screen,” he wrote. “They make faulty assumptions because they have never taken the real thing apart and put it back together again. They’ve never jiggled it in their hand, never gotten a feel for its density and heft, never lifted it to their nose and smelled it. What a pity for them—and maybe for the rest of us as well.”

We are thankful today to Medtronic Diabetes for providing insulin pump and CGM technology to many of our patients. Just like their founder, they are in the business of changing lives.