Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee on March 2, 1957, Mark Dean found that success ran in his bloodlines. His grandfather was a high school principal and his father worked as a supervisor for the Tennessee Valley Authority Dam. A bright and energetic child, he often endured questions from grade school classmates, asking if he was really Black because Black people were not supposed to be that smart. Mark was an outstanding high school athlete as well as a straight A student. His success continued in college as he graduated at the top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979.
In 1980, Dean was invited to join IBM as an engineer. Despite his new position, he continued his education and received a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1982. In his capacity as an engineer for IBM, he didn’t take long to make a big impact, serving as the chief engineer for the team that developed the IBM PC/AT, the original home/office computer. Along with his colleague Dennis Moeller, he developed the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, a component that allowed multiple peripheral devices such as a modems and printers to be connected to a PC, thus making the PC a practical and affordable component of the home or small business office. Dean would own three of the original nine patents that all PCs are based upon. Dean followed up with PS/2 Models 70 or 80, and the Color Graphics Adapter (which allowed for color display on the PC).
Despite his enormous success, Dean realized that there was more to learn and more than he could achieve, so he entered Stanford University and in 1992 received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. Five years later he was named as the director of the Austin Research Laboratory and director of Advanced Technology Development for the IBM Enterprise Server Group. Under his leadership, in 1999 his team made several significant breakthroughs including the testing of the first gigahertz CMOS microprocessor. With this great success he was named the vice president for Systems Research at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, then as a vice president in IBM’s Storage Technology Group, focused on the company’s storage systems strategy and technology roadmap. He was later named vice president for hardware and systems architecture in IBM’s Systems and Technology Group (STG) in Tucson, Arizona and finally the vice president of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California.
In addition to the prestigious titles with their inherent responsibilities, Dr. Dean was named an IBM fellow, the highest technical honor awarded by the company (only 50 of IBM’s 310,000 employees are IBM Fellows and he was the first Black person so honored). In 1997, along with his friend Dennis Moeller, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (with Hall membership at around 150) and in 2001 was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineers. With more than 40 patents or patents pending, Dr. Dean is poised to continue his far reaching impact on the world of science and the home and workplace.
Black Man Developed 1st PC AT Computer – Mark Dean