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Remembering Earl Bakken, Inventor of the First Wearable, Battery-Powered Pacemaker

The IEEE Life Fellow co-founded the medical device company, Medtronic

4 min read
Photo of Earl Bakken
Photo: Medtronic

THE INSTITUTE IEEE Life Fellow Earl E. Bakken, cofounder of Medtronic, died 21 October at the age of 94.

Bakken started off his career by repairing electronic medical equipment in his Minneapolis garage. Few hospitals had the staff to maintain and fix such delicate devices, so they brought them to Bakken. Seeing the need for a company that specialized in designing and repairing medical machinery, Bakken and his brother-in-law Palmer Hermundslie founded Medtronic in Minneapolis in 1949. In its first year, the company made only US $8.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
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Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
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Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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