Earl Bakken

The ultimate personal technology

April 21, 2010: 3:00 AM ET

Medtronic CEO Bill Hawkins wants to turn pacemakers, stents, and defibrillators into tiny mobile devices.

Bill Hawkins in Los Angeles, home of Medtronic's diabetes operations

Rave all you want about your favorite iPad apps or your new featherweight netbook with a customized cover. The ultimate personal technologies are the pacemakers, insulin pumps, and neurostimulators made by Medtronic -- and, says CEO Bill Hawkins, those devices are every bit as sophisticated as the gadgets churned out in Silicon Valley.

Is Medtronic the Apple (AAPL) of medical technology? "I'd say Apple is the Medtronic of computing," Hawkins replies.

Not that anyone would mistake Hawkins and Steve Jobs for each other. A Durham, N.C., native who joined Medtronic (MDT) almost a decade ago, Hawkins, 56, often appears more like a churchgoing engineer (which he is) than a visionary.

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