So how is it that we can celebrate the
20th anniversary of the IBM personal computer without
reading or hearing a single word about him?
Given all of the pressure mass media 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 as
quietly as they did. He certainly shouldn't. Dr. Dean helped
start a Digital Revolution that created people like
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 already was 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. For most of us,
changing the face of society would have been
enough. But not for Dr. Dean. Still in his early forties, he
has a lot of inventing left in him.
He recently made history again by
leading the design team responsible for creating the first
1-gigahertz processor chip. It's just
step in making computers faster and smaller. As the world
congratulates itself for the new Digital Age brought on by
the personal computer, we need to guarantee that the
African-American story is part of the hoopla surrounding the
most stunning technological advance the world has ever seen.
We cannot afford to let Dr. Mark
Dean become a footnote in history. He is well worth his own