Medtronic 5800 Pacemaker

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Description (Brief)
In 1958 Earl Bakken an electrical engineer and co-founder of Medtronic Inc. developed the first wearable pacemaker. Bakken named his device the Medtronic 5800 because it was created in 1958. This external pacemaker was originally intended to treat short term heart rate irregularities which sometimes occurred after open heart surgery. It was developed at the request of Dr. Clarence Walton "Walt" Lillehei (1918-1999), a pioneering heart surgeon at the University of Minnesota.
Patients who experience what is known as Stokes - Adams syndrome; a loss of consciousness due to a change in the hearts rhythm or complete or partial heart block and an abnormal heart block resulting from open heart surgery were also helped by the development of the pacemaker.
The pacemaker is a simple rectangular white plastic box with two metal handles on each side for attachment to the patient with straps. It is powered by two transistors and a battery. A clear plastic cover protects the two dials (heart rate and the electrical output) recessed into the box and a tiny blinking red light which indicated the device was working. At the top of the pacemaker are two terminals. A wire attached to a terminal was then inserted through the skin and threaded into the heart. The wire sends pluses of electricity to a heart which cannot beat fast enough to pump blood through the body.
date made
place made
United States: Minnesota, Minneapolis
overall: 16.8 cm x 13 cm x 5 cm; 6 5/8 in x 5 1/8 in x 1 31/32 in
overall: 1 1/2 in x 4 3/8 in x 5 3/8 in; 3.81 cm x 11.1125 cm x 13.6525 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
serial number
Credit Line
Gift of Medtronic, Inc.
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Places of Invention
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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