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Otis Boykin was inducted into the 2014 National Inventors Hall of Fame, but his life’s purpose was determined at an early age. Boykin was born on August 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas and as an infant, his mother would die of heart failure. Thirty-one years later, Boykin filed a patent for a resistor that paved the way for his most notable invention, the pacemaker control unit.
Boykin’s Pacemaker upgrades saved lives.
Boykin, who took a special interest in working with resistors, began researching and inventing on his own. Otis’s pacemaker was longer-lasting and manufacturable at a lower cost, which helped increase access to patients’ improved care.
Because of Boykin’s pacemaker improvement, companies like Boston Scientific have also been able to develop leadless pacemakers, which are less invasive and 90% smaller than transvenous pacemakers, according to the American College of Cardiology.
A supremely educated brother, Boykin graduated from a Dallas high school as valedictorian in 1938.
He decided to continue his education, pursuing graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. However, unable to afford tuition, Boykin was forced to drop out in 1947 after only two years. He would later enroll in Nashville’s Fisk College, graduating in 1941. Despite bumps along the road, he would go on to revolutionize the pacemaker.
Not satisfied with making crucial advancements to the pacemaker, he sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor would later be used in radios and TVs. Two years later, he created a breakthrough device that could withstand extreme changes in temperature and pressure. The device, which was cheaper and more reliable than others, came in great demand by the U.S. military and IBM.
Otis Boykin’s work on improved electrical resistors made possible the steady workings of a wide variety of electrical devices. Variations of his resistor technologies are used in televisions, radios, computers, pacemaker, and guided missiles.When he died in 1982, Otis Boykin had 26 patents in his name.