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This Day In History: March 2nd
Although figures such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are often highlighted as pioneers of the computer age, fellow African-American inventor Mark Dean also played an important role in the development of the personal computer. Thanks to Dean’s innovations, computers became more powerful and more accessible to consumers.
Mark Dean was born on March 2, 1957, in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He was a gifted scholar and athlete while growing up. After graduating high school, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee in 1979, where he graduated at the top of his class with a degree in engineering. Dean soon began working as an engineer for IBM.
During the early portion of his career, Dean contributed to the IBM Personal System (PS)/2 Models 70 and 80, as well as IBM’s first Color Graphics Adapter. Alongside his colleague, Dennis Moeller, Dean also developed an Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus. The ISA was a new system that allowed peripheral devices such as printers, scanners and monitors to connect directly to a computer.
IBM released the first personal computer in 1981, and Dean holds three patents associated with the device. While working at IBM, Dean decided to further his education. He earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1982. Dean pursued another advanced degree in 1992 and earned a doctoral degree in engineering from Stanford University.
Dean continued innovating with IBM and conducted research that enhanced the efficiency of personal computers. In 1999, Dean led a team of IBM engineers in the creation of the first gigahertz chip. The revolutionary chip had the capacity to process one billion calculations per second.
Throughout his career, Dean has been credited with over 20 patents. He successfully navigated IBM’s corporate ladder and served as a Vice President and the chief technology officer for IBM Middle East and Africa. Dean was even named an IBM fellow in 1995.
Two years later, he received the Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Dean retired from IBM in 2013 and became a faculty member in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee.