You may not have heard of Dr. Mark Dean. And you aren’t alone. But almost everything in your life has been affected by his work.
See, Dr. Mark Dean is a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is in the National Hall of Inventors. He has more than 30 patents pending. He is a vice president with IBM. Oh, yeah. And he is also the architect of the modern-day personal computer.
Dr. Dean holds three of the original nine patents on the computer that all PCs are based upon. And, Dr. Mark Dean is an African American.
So how is it that we can celebrate the 20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer without hearing much about him? It certainly isn’t IBM’s doing.
The mass media again are under the spotlight. Given all of the pressure they are under about negative portrayals of African Americans on television and in print, you would think it would be a slam dunk to highlight someone like Dr. Dean. Somehow, though, we have managed to miss the shot.
History is cruel when it comes to telling the stories of African Americans. Dr. Dean isn’t the first Black inventor to be overlooked….
Consider John Stanard, inventor of the refrigerator; George Sampson, creator of the clothes dryer; Alexander Miles and his elevator; Lewis Latimer and the electric lamp. All of these inventors share two things: One,–they changed the landscape of our society; and, two–society relegated them to the footnotes of history.
Hopefully, Dr. Mark Dean won’t go away quietly as they did. He certainly shouldn’t. Dr. Dean helped start a Digital Revolution that created people like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Dell Computer’s Michael Dell. Millions of jobs in information technology can be traced back directly to Dr. Dean.
More important, stories like Dr. Mark Dean’s should serve as inspiration for African-American children. Already, victims of the “Digital Divide” and failing school systems, young, Black kids might embrace technology with more enthusiasm if they knew someone like Dr. Dean was already leading the way.
Although technically Dr. Dean can’t be credited with creating the computer– that is left to Alan Turing, a pioneering 20th-century English mathematician, widely considered to be the father of modern computer science — Dr. Dean rightly deserves to take a bow for the machine we use today.
The computer really wasn’t practical for home or small business use until he came along, leading a team that developed the interior architecture (ISA systems bus) that enables multiple devices, such as modems and printers, to be connected to personal computers. In other words, because of Dr. Dean, the PC became a part of our daily lives.
We cannot afford to let Dr. Mark Dean become a footnote in history. He is well worth his own history book.
This article was written and published by Tyrone Taborn, CEO and Chief Content Officer of USBE magazine, in 2001, to mark the 20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer. Mark E Dean is now the John Fisher Distinguished Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering. He was honored as Black Engineer of the Year in 2000.
View Comments (24)
PatMay 4, 2017
DanitaMay 4, 2017
I am well aware of Dr. Mark Dean. Every February I send out Black History Tidbits everyday for the month and I sent his info out two years in a row. There is no reason why we should not know about our Black History makers past and present, with the internet there is no excuse for ignorance. All you have to do is google Black history makers or inventors and all kinds of information comes up past and present.
RJMay 5, 2017
princeMay 6, 2017
Steven ZinhagelMay 6, 2017
I’m awake => W.U.N. (Wake Up Now) !!
Annette AyresMay 6, 2017
Why am I just finding out about this brilliant very intelligent African-American gentleman???
TrishMay 7, 2017
I wasn’t aware. Good to know.
Jonathan RazoMay 7, 2017
I had the privilege to get to know Mark and work at IBM Research. Go Mark!!!
Mary BergerMay 9, 2017
Thank you for sharing this important message. Thank you
For your contributions to America and beyond.
The physician who developed type and cross match for
The first blood transfusions was black and also not revered.
These are terrible omissions from American history.
MaryMay 9, 2017
At what point will we as a people stop waiting on the ‘white media’ to celebrate our intellect?? We need our own forms of media – digital, print, and televised. Now if he was a singer or an actor – he would stay in Essence- we need new fresh perspectives in this arena!
Cynthia TalleyMay 9, 2017
Awesome! We need to make sure our youth know of the examples of our successes! #sharetheknowledge
Terry W BarksadaleMay 9, 2017
Thanks for the information! I would also add the name of Jessie Russell who is a graduate of Tennessee State University regarding the Cell Phone.
Sis JonesMay 11, 2017
Just love my black history ! Amazing to see all the accomplishments our people have made. Please keep posting.
DeeMay 30, 2017
Wonderful information! So much is finally surfacing about our awesome history.
Thanks for sharing.
AzizMay 22, 2017
I agreed with you Danita, here is another suggested link check it out http://www.tnj.com/black-history-makers/major-inventions-african-americans. Please research and be familiar with your history… you will be VERY PROUD of yourself.
CarmetaJanuary 27, 2018
Enlightening info keep up the good work.
Sheila ShermanMarch 24, 2018
Taking nothing away from our civil rights trailblazers, but these are living trailblazers who should be honored while they are able to take part of the celebrations and receive their acknowledgment while they are living. Tom Joyner Morning Show add this Dr. to your list.
wenzokuhleFebruary 8, 2020
Why are we even called African American, that’s RACISM because a person from MEXICO is not called Mexican American. Non world Races respect and love the BLACK MAN yet we did every thing for them.
Margaret IvoryJuly 3, 2020
I will tell it to everyone I know.
Structural Engineering AucklandAugust 19, 2020
Thank you for sharing this information about hi techs invisible man. It was useful and interesting. You indeed have written it in a layman way so that anyone can understand and work accordingly. You have done a great job.You must also check out Bvtengineering.com it has some great insights too.
Sam WhiskeyNovember 13, 2020
Hate to tell you guys but half the shit in this article is exaggerated. Were there black engineers as early as pre civil war, post civil war, etc… Of course. There was no TV back then so people tended to learn differently and with more direct benefit, but to say John sanard is the inventory of the refrigerator is bullshit. He had his contribution with improvements, but not the inventor. Same with Lewis lattimer. He didn’t invent the light bulb. He improved in the filament, and then some other white guy in Europe made his own design a few years later, rendering patterns obsolete. My point is humans innovate little by little. Did y’all contribute… Sure, a little. Good for you, keep it up. But let’s not tell each other lies, almost as if you think black folk created everything and the evil white man stole it all with his white devil lies. Reality and truth. Use their examples to drive yourself instead of relishing in intermediate accomplishments.
Sam WhiskeyNovember 13, 2020
I looked him up, as I’m in IT, to say Dean is the architect of the modern day computer is a lie. He lead a team to develop a system bus within IBM, as an IBM project. There were many teams developing the CPU, ram delivery, etc. He had many counterparts he replied on for his work to mean anything, prob nearly all white. That’s what a team of engineers are. He’s like Lewis lattimer, smart guy, capable, but patented his stuff on top of other technology invented earlier by… mostly other White people, and some Japanese, etc. The Isa slot was a more compact data deliver system than what was used in the 70s, but that’s how technology goes. So then why not mention the IBM guy that invetented the pci bus Superior to the Isa bus? Dean also helped develop the 1st 1ghz cpu not too long ago, but to imply he alone created? This emphasis on race and exaggerating achievements from a racial point of view is stupid. There nothing wrong with composing a list of black engineers and achievements throughout history, just cut the bloviated prose that makes it sound they and them alone.
Y.T. RichmanFebruary 20, 2021
Great article! It is good to see a black man overcome the economic and criminal barriers to succeed in serving the world. To forget the slave mentality, and the chains, the whip across the back. And the racism that endured. I will never forget his hard work, being a young hard working day trader at the time myself, I made a seven figure profit off a well timed IBM stock dividend, all thanks to this black man. Bought me my first mansion.
We need more blacks to work so selflessly for our Homeland and preserve ours (and their) Heritage alike.
As a white man, I do my best to spread awareness of blacks and end the problems of their poverty and helplessness, and reverse their disproportionate criminal nature and share my love all things black, from Soul food, to cleaning my office.
I am currently team leading a venture group to help blacks get jobs and live sustainably under a joint partnership with top wallstreet investors and we would love to have as many hard working blacks on board as possible. I have seen black team work myself, in the NFL and NBA to name two examples
PS ((black lives matter!)))) Email at richman1488@aol
Com to tell me how you can help
German reyesMarch 26, 2021
@Sam Whiskey Your hypocritical complaints is ironic, you complain about the supposed Afrocentrism, but you do exactly the same with your Eurocentrism, to start you give some straw arguments, for example that of “there were many people but most of them possibly white and Asian” from there you already show your eurocentrism and then you complain.
and no, it is not exaggerated, on the contrary, you are the one who trivializes inventions, with your nonsenses.
To begin with, it is quite obvious that when you have the basis of an invention later you will receive help such as the light bulb, the refrigerator and the computer, but obviously we owe the greatest recognition to the one who made the basis, the person who did the most important part, difficult from scratch, so we can perfectly attribute the inventions to the African American inventors you mentioned, not the most not was whites.
For example, the case of the bulbs is not true that he only created the filaments, and he was who helped to improve the functionality and the central part of the bulb, and if well as you say someone else in the future improved his focus, that was later and it was he based on the focus of the same black inventor that curiously you do not mention.
The refrigerator thing obviously had help after the base, but he basically created the entire refrigerator for the most part, and as for what you mention about the computer at no time is it said that he is the inventor, it is a straw argument, in The same article admits that it was Alan Turing, however even that is not entirely true since there were also Turing’s ancestors and helpers among them Muslims,
the programmer basically created important memory programs and designs to help have the computer as we know it, although obviously he had assistants and some even later created new improved programs as you mentioned, too later mark Dean created More Best softwares
He basically created the foundations of the computer as we know it.
Alan Turing, and other programmers including Muslims, although we owe the basics that were similar to a gps and calculator, we owe modern computers and programs to the programmer of the article.
Too More inventors Blacks , muslims , Indians,.