Medtronic founder passes away

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Leading global medical device company Medtronic has announced that its co-founder, Earl E. Bakken, has passed away.

Mr Bakken, who founded the company with his brother-in-law in 1949, was 94 years old.

“Today we are saddened by the passing of Earl Bakken, but we also honor and will forever cherish the life of a beloved man whose brilliance and vision have improved the lives of millions of people around the world,” said Omar Ishrak, Medtronic chairman and chief executive officer.

“The contributions Earl made to the field of medical technology simply cannot be overstated. His spirit will live on with us as we work to fulfill the Mission he wrote nearly 60 years ago – to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bakken family during this difficult time.”

Mr Bakken led Medtronic for 40 years before retiring as chairman in 1989.

He served in World War 2 as a radar instructor and then attended the University of Minnesota, earning a degree in electrical engineering. While a graduate student, Mr Bakken did part-time work repairing lab equipment at Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Demand for these services grew and Medtronic was formed in 1949 with its headquarters in a modified garage in northeast Minneapolis.

The company built the world’s first wearable transistorised pacemaker by adapting a circuit described for an electronic metronome in the magazine Popular Electronics. This milestone is viewed by many as the “birth” of Medtronic.