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Wilson Greatbatch
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    (September 6, 1919-September 27, 2011)
    Born in Buffalo, New York
    Held over 300 patents
    Invented the implantable cardiac pacemaker
    Founded Greatbatch Inc to manufacture lithium-iodide batteries to power the pacemaker
    Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (1986)
    He earned bad grades in math and the sciences in college.
    He made the critical breakthrough in creating the pacemaker by accident when he plugged the wrong resistor in a circuit he was designing and, instead of oscillating as intended, the circuit produced a quick burst of electricity, stopped for a second, then repeated.
    Of the first sixteen of his pacemakers that were implanted, ten had wire breakages, five had premature battery failures, one had an electrical component failure and three caused infections.
    Although he had extensive lab facilities at his company, he continued to do most of his research in his home garage workshop.
    During World War II, he served in the Navy as an instructor, a radioman and a tailgunner in dive bombers.
    He was married to Eleanor Greatbach for 65 years until her death.
    He kept improving the pacemaker and its battery until their installation became practically routine.
    In 1983, the National Society of Professional Engineers named his invention of the pacemaker one of the ten greatest engineering contributions of the past fifty years.
    He said about inventing, 'Nine things out of ten won't work. The tenth will pay for the other nine.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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