Medtronic Founder Earl A. Bakken Dies at 94

Earl E. Bakken
Monday, October 22, 2018

Minnesota inventor Earl E. Bakken, best known as the founder of global medical device company Medtronic, has died at his home in Hawaii. Bakken was born in Columbia Heights and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in electrical engineering in 1948. An inveterate tinkerer from an early age, Bakken invented the first wearable, battery-powered, transistorized cardiac pacemaker in 1957 at the request of University of Minnesota heart surgeon C. Walton Lillehei. A Minnesota Public Radio obituary explains that he founded Medtronic because he "saw a need for skilled maintenance and repair of electronic medical technology." Bakken noted, "'The hospitals were bringing this equipment to radio shops.'" Later in life, Bakken became a philanthropist; among his many good works was funding the University's Center for Spirituality and Healing, a Consortium member, which changed its name to honor him in 2017. Photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri via the Creative Commons.