Inventor Wilson Greatbatch had a simple philosophy for his innovations: “Nine things out of ten won’t work; the tenth one will pay for the other nine.”
Greatbatch, born September 6, 1919 in Buffalo, and later of West Seneca, touched the hearts of many when he invented the artificial pacemaker. He worked with William Chardack on the first fully implantable pulse generator in the country, which was first successfully implanted in 1960. The pacemaker would send electric pulses to the heart’s pulse-making components, ensuring a smoother, more even heartbeat. His invention was the successor to devices which used mercury batteries; Greatbatch’s design used a lithium battery, which extended the life of the device, and in turn, the life of the patient.
Greatbatch founded the Greatbatch, Ltd. (formerly Wilson Greatbatch, Ltd.), to manufacture the lithium batteries for his patented invention. The company has grown to over $500 million in annual sales and is a key player in WNY’s medical device sector.
Greatbatch died in Buffalo in 2011, but his work lives on, quite literally, in the lives of many healthy patients.
Image courtesy The Telegraph.