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Wilson Greatbatch, Cardiac Pacemaker Inventor
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Wilson Greatbatch

Wilson Greatbatch

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Drawing of a hand selecting an electronic component from a group
Selecting an electronic component

Implantable Cardiac Pacemaker Inventor

Wilson Greatbatch, an electrical engineer, arrived at his idea for the implantable cardiac pacemaker by mistake.

In 1951, Greatbatch learned from two surgeons about heart block--an ailment caused when natural electrical impulses from the heart’s upper chambers fail to reach the heart’s lower chambers.

In 1956, while designing an electrical circuit to record fast-beating heart sounds, Greatbatch accidentally grabbed the wrong component and plugged it into the circuit he was making. This caused the circuit to pulse for 1.8 milliseconds, stop for 1 second, then repeat. Greatbatch recognized the familiar “lub-dub” rhythm of a heartbeat.

Next: What Did Greatbatch Do With His New Discovery? ›

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