Pacemaker inventor dies at 92
Wednesday 28 September 2011
Wilson Greatbatch, the man who invented the implantable cardiac pacemaker, has died at 92.
Kathryn Tarquin, a spokeswoman for the company Mr Greatbatch founded, said he died yesterday at an assisted living centre in suburban Buffalo, New York state.
His son-in-law Larry Maciariello said his children were with him.
In a lifetime of inventing, Mr Greatbatch received more than 150 patents, including one for the pacemaker, which was first implanted in humans in 1960. He started Wilson Greatbatch Ltd in 1970 to make batteries for the devices. The company is now Greatbatch Inc.
Mr Greatbatch was trained as an electrical engineer at Cornell University and the University at Buffalo.
He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, in 1988.
In 1988, Mr Greatbatch was inducted into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, following in the footsteps of his hero, inventor Thomas Edison.
After his own induction, Greatbatch continued to attend the hall's yearly induction ceremonies for years.
He also made time each year to talk to children at five schools about scientific careers. His message to pupils was: Don't fear failure, don't crave success. The reward is not in the results but in the doing.
"Nine things out of 10 won't work," he said in 1997 when he spoke about his lifelong passion for inventing. "The 10th one will pay for the other nine."
In 1983, the National Society of Professional Engineers chose the pacemaker as one of the 10 greatest engineering contributions to society during the past 50 years.
The device was first successfully implanted in a 77-year-old man at Buffalo's Veteran's Affairs Hospital. The patient lived for 18 months.
Last year Greatbatch Inc celebrated the 50th anniversary of the device. The company's president Thomas Hook said Mr Greatbatch "pushed the limits of science" to develop it.
In 1996, at 76, the Lemelson-MIT Prize board gave Mr Greatbatch a lifetime achievement award.
In his later years Mr Greatbatch challenged the next generation of inventors to develop nuclear fusion with a type of helium found on the moon to replace fossil fuels, which he said would be exhausted by 2050.
He also worked towards finding a cure for Aids.
Though his inventions brought him fame and fortune, Mr Greatbatch held closely to his roots and family. He lived with his wife of more than 60 years, Eleanor - the maker of his trademark bow ties - in an 1845 converted schoolhouse about 15 miles east of Buffalo.
The couple had moved in recent years to their assisted living residence, Oxford Village at Canterbury Woods. Mrs Greatbatch died in January at 90.
Mr Greatbatch was a rear gunner and dive bomber in the US Navy during the Second World War. As a chief petty officer, he taught in the navy's radar school, an extension of a childhood hobby of ham radio.
He taught engineering at the University of Buffalo from 1952 to 1957.
He and his wife had five children.
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Alton Towers closed after horror crash on The Smiler raises safety questions for theme park
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...