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Dean L Kamen

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You don’t have to be an inventor to be an entrepreneur but it doesn’t hurt either. Dean L. Kaman is best known for inventing the Segway Human Transporter, but that is just a very small part of his accomplishments.

He was born on April 5th, 1951 on Long Island, New York. His mother, Evelyn, was a school teacher and his father, Jack, was a comic book illustrator for Mad Magazine and Weird Science.

Several biographers have drawn parallels between Kamen and inventor Thomas Edison regarding their youth. Both were so smart, they were bored with their traditional education. Both were told that they would not amount to much and both were both were avid readers who educated themselves about that which piqued their interest.

Kamen was inventing before he was 6 years old. He made a gadget to help him make his bed at 5 and later was building light and sound systems. He converted the family’s basement into a complete “inventor’s shop” and was making money from his inventions very early on. Along the way he was hired to invent a system to drop the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball automatically. By the time he graduated from high school, Dean was making more money from his inventions than his parent’s incomes put together.

While attending college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dean Kamen invented a medical drug infusion pump. He dropped out of college to start his own company called AutoSyringe to market and manufacture his invention.

In 1982, Dean Kamen sold AutoSyringe to the health company giant, Baxter International, in a deal that made him very wealthy. Baxter has sold more than 500 million of the AutoSyringe worldwide. Kamen used those proceeds to start his new company that he named DEKA Research and Development. The word DEKA comes from the first two letters of the inventor’s first and last name. The purpose of DEKA is to develop internally generated inventions as well as to provide research and development for major corporate clients.

One project is named The HomeChoice™, for Baxter International. It is a system that allows dialysis in the privacy of a person’s own home. It quickly became a worldwide market leader. Another is an advanced prosthetic arm that should advance the quality of life for wounded warriors beyond anything that is available now.

Then there is the all-terrain electric wheelchair known as the iBOT, using many of the same gyroscopic balancing technologies that later made their way into the Segway. A prototype was demonstrated for President Clinton in the Oval Office (pictured above).

Of course, everyone has seen pictures of or experienced the Segway PT Human Transporter.

As of 2013, Kamen’s current project is called SLINGSHOT. It is a water purifier for developing nations. It took over 10 years to develop. Dean did an unusual trade with Coca-Cola to get world distribution. Using his medical technology, he solved an ingredient mixing problem for Coke and Coke has agreed to assist in distributing SLINGSHOT to developing nations where Coke has a presence (which is everywhere). The model is Coke will give the device to a woman entrepreneur in a village. It only costs a few pennies per gallon of fresh water and it can produce 250 gallons per day. These women will have an on-going business and for the first time, these villages will have fresh water which should change their health picture dramatically. The first SLINGSHOTS will be delivered in late 2013.

Kamen has won more awards than space allows here but most notable is the National Medal of Technology in 2000, presented by President Clinton. This award was in recognition for inventions that have advanced medical care worldwide, and for innovative and imaginative leadership in awakening America to the excitement of science and technology.

Founding FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 is one of Dean's proudest accomplishments. It is an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to understand, use and enjoy science and technology.

FIRST serves more than 300,000 young people, ages 6 to 18, in more than 50 countries around the globe. High-school-aged participants are eligible to apply for more than $15 million in scholarships from leading colleges, universities, and corporations. FIRST ‘s alumni are highly motivated to pursue careers in science and engineering, thus fulfilling Dean's goal of inspiring the next generation of technological leaders.

Companies and Investments

AutoSyringe, Inc.

DEKA Research and Development

Lessons Learned

An innovation is one of those things that society looks at and says, if we make this part of the way we live and work, it will change the way we live and work.

Inspiring Quotes

“Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.”

Albert Einstein

Dean L Kamen's Quotes

You have teenagers thinking they are going to make millions as NBA stars when that is not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is.

Dean L Kamen

Influential Books

Kevin Kelly - What Technology Wants WHAT TECHNOLOGY WANTS BY Kelly, Kevin ( Author ) Oct-14-2010


Albert Einstein