William B. Kouwenhoven

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William B. Kouwenhoven
Born (1886-01-03)3 January 1886
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died 10 November 1975(1975-11-10) (aged 89)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Notable awards IEEE Edison Medal (1961)

William Bennett Kouwenhoven (13 January 1886 – 10 November 1975), was an electrical engineer who developed closed-chest cardiac massage, part of CPR and also invented the first cardiac defibrillator.


He was born in Brooklyn, and received his B.E. from Brooklyn Polytechnic in New York, and his Ph.D. from the Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule in Germany in 1913. Kouwenhoven was an IEEE Fellow, recipient of the IEEE Edison Medal in 1961. He also received the Power Life Award and the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.

He researched the electrophysiology of the heart and discovered the effects of electricity on the heart including defibrillation.

While a student at Brooklyn Polytech, Dr. Kouwenhoven joined Pi Kappa Phi fraternity on 25 February 1929.

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