Having worked in the media for years where I saw and see very few African Americans in highly visible news editorial positions, you can understand why very few stories about us as hero and victim ever get much exposure. But when we are the assailant or perpetrator, only then do we get the front page or the lead story, as if to say I told you so. Stories about our accomplishments make some of those who have a false sense of superiority feel very uncomfortable. In this age of technology, here is an African American you need to know about and applaud.
"America's High Tech "Invisible Man"
By Tyrone D. Taborn
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 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 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 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 another huge 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 history book.