Pacemaker Development

Events

1800's

1800

Electrical activity within the heart was first detected

1932 - American physiologist Albert Hyman built the first device called an artificial pacemaker, though it was powered by a hand crank and only tested on animals

1932

1946

1946

Paul Zoll & Earl Brakken, innovators, pioneered smaller pacemakers, which were worn like necklaces.

1956

1956

Implanting electronic devices into the body presented problems. Electronic components were too bulky until the development of silicone transistors.

1958

1958

The first pacemaker to be implanted was given to Arne Larsson in Sweden. The device failed after 3 hours. The second device lasted 2 days

1960's

1960 - 1969

The modern techniques of implanting a pacemaker was developed by Seymour Furman. Instead of cutting open the chest cavity, he used a method of inserting the leads into a vein and threading them up into the ventricles. With the leads inside the heart, lower voltages were needed to regulate the heartbeat. This increased the lifespan of the pacemaker. By the late 1960’s most cardiac specialists were using this method.

1960's

1960 - 1969

Both public and private research sectors were experimenting with creating batteries using lithium.

1970's

1970 - 1979

Early pacemaker batteries had short, unreliable lifetimes until Wilson Greatbatch pioneered long-life lithium batteries.

1972

1972

The first pacemaker using a lithium battery was introduced and implanted within a patient

1980's

1980 - 1989

Researchers sought to improve the lithium battery by increasing its rate capability from microamps to milliamps. They were successful, nut the new battery was considerably more expensive.