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Earl E. Bakken:
Transcript of Interview Excerpt

Earl Bakken, interviewed by David Rhees, February 1, 1998 in Hawaii

“Well, it’s obvious the body is all electrical. Every little function that takes place has an electrical connection. I heard an interesting talk last week when I was in Honolulu. This was a Queens [Hospital] meeting, and they have just a few years ago established a Division of Neuroscience; Neuroscience Division is what they call it. And they, of course, work with a lot of things that are pretty obvious, like stroke, but also epilepsy and tremor.

So as he was giving his talk, about every three minutes the name “Medtronic” came up because we are so deeply into the electrical stimulators of various kinds in the neuroscience field. There are such big breakthroughs, many of them potentially as big or bigger than pacemaking.

Our Neuro Division, which we started in 1965, is now one of our biggest growth centers in the company. It’s just amazing how much it grows each quarter. And new applications, both electrical and chemical, that bring about electrical changes. But when the electricity stops flowing in the body, that’s death. What Mary Shelley talked about, she had it pinned down precisely. Of course, she didn’t say too much about electricity, but talked about the spark of life, recognizing that life was electrical.”

 

Biographical Information

Earl E. Bakken was born and educated in Minnesota. He started Medtronic Inc. and has developed many medical devices including the first battery operated pacemaker and one of the first implantable pacemakers. He founded the Bakken Library and Museum in Minneapolis.

Earl E. Bakken