Philip Graden

Mark Dean, PC Pioneer

This Black History Month, USTelecom is reflecting on the African-American innovators and game changers who set our collective path toward technology, connectivity and high-speed internet and inspired future generations to dream big.

In 1981, Mark Dean – together with a colleague at IBM – created the landmark technology that would launch the digital revolution: what we know as the personal computer (PC). Little did Dean know, his vision to revolutionize the PC would position him as one of history’s top technology innovators, the first African-American IBM Fellow, and a National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee.

Let’s back up. His journey as a creator didn’t begin at IBM.

At a young age, Dean was passionate about constructing machines, even building a tractor from scratch with the help of his father. His manufacturing ingenuity fueled his interest in engineering at the University of Tennessee where he graduated at the top of his class. Then, he landed a job at IBM. A lifelong IBMer, Dean played a role in transforming the internet, data, software, and hardware sectors. His inventions include the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus – a component that allows multiple devices to connect to a PC, and the gigahertz chip – a device that can perform up to a billion calculations a second.

His standout invention? The color PC monitor.  Straying away from previous black-white/grayscale models, Dean’s invention set the standard as an affordable and practical component of home and small business offices. With his intuition and knowledge, Dean created a goldmine of innovative technologies that transformed how people connect.

For those who came of age post-internet, it might be hard to understand how revolutionary the PC was.

Here at USTelecom, we salute Mark Dean for envisioning and creating a transformative device that set us on a path for innovation, cutting-edge infrastructure, and global digital leadership. Our commitment is to build on Dean’s vision – investing in and building the infrastructure that connects people, modernizes networks, and closes the digital divide.