Wilson Greatbatch

It's no overstatement to say that millions of people are alive because of Wilson Greatbatch. As an independent inventor working in a makeshift lab in his barn, Greatbatch, who died Sept. 27 at 92, inadvertently grabbed the wrong part for a machine he was building to record heart sounds. When he installed it, the electrical impulses it put out reminded him of a heartbeat and inspired him to design the first implantable pacemaker. His invention was first used in 10 humans in 1960, and now a half-million pacemakers are implanted each year. In 2007, Greatbatch remarked, "I'm beginning to think I...

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