Earl E . Bakken

Engineer , Inventor and Developer of the

First Wearable, External ,

Battery-powered Pacemaker in 1957

Earl Bakken

Earl E. Bakken
Founder and Director Emeritus,
Medtronic, Inc.

Biographical Information

In 1949, Earl Bakken co-founded Medtronic, Inc., as a partnership with the late Palmer J. Hermundslie. Bakken was Medtronic's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board from the company's incorporation in 1957 until 1976. He was senior Chairman of the Board until his retirement as an officer of Medtronic in April 1989. As Founder and Director Emeritus, Bakken remains active in company relationships involving customers and employees, focusing primarily on the company's mission in the bioengineering industry as outlined in Medtronic's mission statement.

Born in 1924 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bakken was educated in the Columbia Heights public schools. He served four years in the United States Air Force as a radar maintenance instructor until 1946 when he enrolled at the University of Minnesota. After earning a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree in 1948, Bakken studied electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics at the University of Minnesota Graduate School.

Bakken developed the first wearable, external, battery-powered, transistorized pacemaker in 1957 for Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, a University of Minnesota heart surgeon. He has authored several professional papers and delivered numerous speeches to medical, technical, educational and business groups throughout the world.

In 1975 he founded The Bakken, a nonprofit library, museum, and education center devoted to the history of electricity and magnetism and their uses in medicine and the life sciences. The Bakken's collection of rare books and antique instruments and devices has grown to be the finest of its kind in the world. The education programs of The Bakken are renowned for their integration of hands-on learning, history, and the arts.

In retirement, Bakken has headed the Board of Directors of the Five Mountain Medical Community (now known as Five Mountains-Hawaii) in the development of the North Hawaii Community Hospital; Tutu's House, a Community Resource Center; Jobs and Careers; Education Incentives; Care Reimbursement; and Measurement of Health Outcomes, in order to improve the health of the 30,000 people of Northwest Hawaii.

Medtronic, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, is the world's leading medical technology company providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic disease. The company serves markets in 120 countries.

President, Board of Directors, North Hawaii Community Hospital
President, Five Mountain Medical Community (Five Mountains-Hawaii)
Director Emeritus, Board of Directors, Medtronic, Inc.
Chairman, Board of Directors, Archaeus Project
Chairman Board of Directors, The Bakken (A Library and Museum of
Electricity in Life)
Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Friends of the Future, Hawaii
Member Emeritus, Board of Directors, Medical Alley
Board of Members, Children's Heart Fund
Honorary Board of Trustees, Science Museum of Minnesota

Fellow, Bakken Society
Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
Fellow, Instrument Society of America
Fellow, North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology, Inc.
Member, American Antiquarian Society
Member, Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation
Member, National Academy of Engineering
Honorary Fellow, American College of Cardiology, 1991
Honorary Fellow, International College of Surgeons, 1993

Innovator Award, Texas Heart Institute, 1998
International Milestone of Electrical Engineering, IEEE, October 1999
Gold Medal, the European Society of Cardiology, June 1999
NASPE Pioneering Award for -Contributions to the Fields of Cardiac Pacing
and Electrophysiology, June 1999
Living Treasure of Hawaii Award, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, 1999
Special Award Cardiostim 98 XX Anniversary for Engineers and Industry
Founders, June 1998
Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI)
Foundation Laufman-Greatbatch Prize, 1998
American Heart Association, West Hawaii Division Hall of Fame, 1998
American Heart Association, Hawaii, Heart Ball Honoree, 1996
1995 Minnesota High Technology Council Lifetime Achievement Award,
March, 1996
American Creativity Association Lifetime Creative Achievement Award, 1996
Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, 1995
TeknČ Lifetime Achievement Award, Minnesota Technology, November 2000
Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year, National Philanthropy Society-Aloha
(Hawaii) Chapter, 2000
Russ Prize for Achievements in bioengineering, February 2001
Special Service Award, Richard Smart Big Island Community Achievement,
Waimea, HI, 1995
IEEE Eli Lilly Award in Medical and Biological Engineering, Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1994
"Entrepreneur of the Year," Minnesota Entrepreneur's Club, 1993
Lifetime Achievement Award, Entrepreneur of the Year Institute, 1991
Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau (Royal decoration, The Netherlands),
Outstanding Minnesotan of the Year, Minnesota Broadcasters Association, 1988
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Albany College of Pharmacy, 1995
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, University of Minnesota, 1988
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Tulane University, 1988
Achievement Award, Leadership in the Business Application of Science and
Technology, Science Museum of Minnesota, 1988
Governor's Award For Medical Leadership, Minnesota Medical Alley
Association, 1988
Centennial Medal, College of St. Thomas, 1986
NASPE's Distinguished Service Award, 1985
Centennial Medal, Institute. of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 1984
"Engineering for Gold" Award, National Society of Professional Engineers, 1984
(honored cardiac pacemaker as one of the ten most outstanding engineering achievements in the last 50 years)
Med-Tech Outstanding Achievement Award, 1984
Outstanding Achievement Award, University of Minnesota, 1981 (highest
alumni award)