Earl E. Bakken
Earl E. Bakken Russ Prize
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  • Russ
Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize
Go To Award

In 1949, Earl Bakken co-founded Medtronic, one of the world's leading developers and manufacturers of therapeutic medical devices, including the implantable pacemaker, as a partnership with the late Palmer J. Hermundslie. Mr. 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. Mr. Bakken remains active in Medtronic.

Mr. Bakken developed the first wearable, external, battery-powered, transistorized pacemaker in 1957 for Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, a University of Minnesota heart surgeon. Today, more than 400,000 pacemakers are implanted annually, extending and enhancing the quality of life of patients. Sales of pacemaker implantable devices exceed $5 billion per year with the United States as the leader in sales.

In retirement, Mr. Bakken, has headed the board of directors of the Five Mountain Medical Community in the development of the North Hawaii Community Hospital. The center will emphasize a balance of technology and the human touch to provide patient-centered, cost efficient health care.

Earl Bakken served in the U.S. Air Force as a radar maintenance instructor until 1946 when he enrolled at the University of Minnesota. After earning a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1948, he studied electrical engineering with a minor in mathematics at the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Born in 1924 in Minneapolis, Minn., Mr. Bakken currently resides in Waikoloa, Hawaii, with his wife, Doris.

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  • Russ
  • 2001
  • Independent development of the implantable cardiac pacemaker.