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Medtronic founder Earl Bakken dies

Medtronic founder Earl Bakken died today at age 94.
Credit: courtesy Medtronic
Medtronic founder Earl Bakken (left) and CEO Omar Ishrak (right).

Medtronic founder Earl Bakken died Sunday at age 94.

Bakken was born in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, and studied at the University of Minnesota.

He made medical history, inventing the first wearable, battery-operated external pacemaker. That invention was the launching pad for Medtronic, which is one of the largest companies in the world.

Bakken died in his home in Hawaii, where he moved in 1994.

Bakken founded Medtronic in 1949 with his brother-in-law. He led the company for 40 years until he retired as chairman in 1989. He also founded The Bakken Museum, a nonprofit museum and education center in Minneapolis, in 1975.

"Today we are saddened by the passing of Earl Bakken, but we also honor and will forever cherish the life of a beloved man whose brilliance and vision have improved the lives of millions of people around the world," said Omar Ishrak, Medtronic CEO, in a press release on Sunday. "The contributions Earl made to the field of medical technology simply cannot be overstated. His spirit will live on with us as we work to fulfill the Mission he wrote nearly 60 years ago - to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bakken family during this difficult time."