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Pet Sins July 2007

Dr Mark Dean - changing the world of personal computers

Dr Mark Dean (born 1957) is an IBM vice president who holds three of the original nine IBM computer patents on which all PCs are based. According to the article America's High Tech 'Invisible Man', the computer was not suited for home or small business use until Dr Dean led a team to develop the interior architecture (ISA systems bus) that enables multiple devices, such as modems and printers, to be connected to personal computers.

The African-American computer scientist holds more than 20 US patents and has more pending. Dean was named an IBM fellow in 1996 and in 1997 received the Black Engineer of the Year President's Award. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997. (Click here for his National Inventors Hall of Fame profile)

Despite the fact that Dr Dean changed the world of computing, he remains a relative unknown compared to Bill Gates or Alan Turing. This is unfortunate in a world where the names of gangsta rappers are more well-known than the names of highly-educated achievers like Dr Dean. Not to make light of achievements in the arts field or imply that people who excel in the sciences are superior, but I am of the opinion that we need more 'balance' in professional representation and more diverse (in terms of career choices) role models in our communities and in the media. We can speculate on a thousand reasons as to why Dr Dean isn't as well-known as he should be, but one thing that is sure is each of us can promote greater awareness of the kind of role models we want our children to follow.