What does bus, blue gene, and a color monitor all have in common? Answer: Dr. Mark Dean, an African-American electrical engineer and computer scientist who enjoys computers.
Mark Dean (1957- ), was born on March 2, 1957 in Jefferson City, Tennessee. His father was a supervisor at the Tennessee Valley Authority Dam and his grandfather was a high school principal. Like the inventor Garrett Morgan, as a boy, Mark loved to tinker. Would you believe that he and his father built a tractor from scratch? They did!
Mark was smart and worked hard in school. After integration and while in sixth grade, he remembers one of his white friends asking if he was really African-American because his friend thought that he was too smart to be black. Not only was he a straight-A student, but he was a good athlete. He was one of only a few African-American students attending Jefferson City High School in Tennessee.
Although a part of the university's Minority Engineering Program at the University of Tennessee, Mark graduated at the top of his class. He received a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979, a Master of Science (MS) in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1982, and a Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1992.
In 1980, he went to work for IBM and has worked for the company for over 28 years. He holds three (3) of the original nine (9) patents on the computer that all personal computers are based upon. In part, because of his research, today's desktop computers are in existence. Shortly after his employment at IBM, Mark and a co-worker named Dennis Moeller invented the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, a user interface or set of wires that allows information or data to be passed back and forth to devices such as printers, keyboards, modems, and disk drives to be connected to the motherboard of a personal computer. The motherboard is the brain of the computer. It makes everything in your computer work together. Mark developed a way for displaying color on monitors, and helped design several PS/2 subsystems. In addition, Mark tested the first gigahertz CMOS microprocessor...a really, really, really, fast microprocessor! But that's not all...Dean was one of the key people who developed the unique cellular structure of IBM's distinguished Blue Gene supercomputer, a computer designed to reach operating speeds that are unimaginable...right now it can reach sustained or continuous speeds in the petaflop range or about 360 calculations per second, making it the world's fastest computer. I know you wondering, what is a petaflop? A petaflop is a thousand trillion floating point operations per second...that's a one with fourteen (14) zeros after it or 100,000,000,000,000. Not only is this computer super, super, fast, but it performs well and is compact.
In 1995, Dr. Mark Dean was named an IBM Fellow, one of only 50 active fellows of IBM's 310,000 employees. He was the first African-American to be honored as an IBM Fellow. He holds more than 40 US patents or patents pending, and was recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, where he is one of only a few African-Americans. His most recent awards include the 2006 National Institute of Science Outstanding Scientist Award, member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, National Academy of Engineering, the Black Engineer of the Year Award, the NSBE Distinguished Engineer Award, the Black Engineer of the Year President's Award, and recipient of the Ronald H. Brown American Innovators Award in Washington, DC., just to name a few. Presently, Dr. Mark Dean is vice president of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, and senior location executive for Silicon Valley.