Pacemaker inventor dies at 92

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.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power