A Mark made in history

Aidan – Year 13 Student

Editor’s note: This short essay was recently entered into the GSAL Black History Essay Writing Competition, organized by The GSAL Journal and UPSoc to coincide with Black History Month. Open to all students in Year 10-13, the purpose of the competition was to encourage students to undertake independent research, think critically and communicate clearly about an aspect of black history of interest to them. The Competition Poster provides more information about the competition brief and success criteria. CPD

When I say ‘technology’, who is the first person that comes to mind? Bill Gates? Tim Cook? I bet you didn’t think of Mark Dean. Now you’re probably thinking, who?

Mark Dean is an innovative computer scientist and engineer who graduated from the University of Tennessee. From a young age, he showed much interest in building and tinkering. He had an aptitude for academics, and beyond that, he excelled in athletics. However, what made him so respected in the technological industry was his contribution to the colour PC monitor and the invention of the gigahertz chip.

Mark Dean is responsible for many of the technological advancements we have seen in recent years. Thanks to his invention of the gigahertz chip, phones and computers are faster than ever. But what exactly is a gigahertz chip? A gigahertz chip is a CPU (The brain of the computer) that executes one billion cycles per second. A simple analogy of it would be throwing tennis balls. If you can throw three tennis balls per second, we would say that the frequency is equal to three hertz. Simple, right? Now, if we go back to the gigahertz chip, and if one instruction takes one cycle to complete, that means that it can do one billion instructions in a single second. However, in reality, it wouldn’t be this simplistic as instructions often take more than one cycle to complete.

Before Mark Dean’s involvement with the advancements of CPUs, many believed that it was impossible to go past one gigahertz. That now leaves the question: how revolutionary was Mark Dean’s invention of the gigahertz chip to the technological industry?

There is no debate that the gigahertz chip was very revolutionary to the technological industry. Currently, CPUs clock speeds are going well beyond one gigahertz. Modern-day CPUs have clock speeds that are upwards of four gigahertz. Uses of these faster CPUs include 3D modelling and video editing. However, without the first gigahertz chip, we may not even have seen CPUs that reach four gigahertz.

The creation of the gigahertz chip was inevitable. However, without Mark Dean’s involvement, likely, the gigahertz chip would not have been made by computer engineers until very much later on. Mark Dean’s involvement brought about major revolutionisation in the tech world. Using faster CPUs meant that people could run codes faster – allowing them to create and use software for complex activities such as science modelling.

In conclusion, the world would not be where it is today without Mark Dean’s intervention in the technological world. Without the gigahertz chip, we wouldn’t be holding onto phones that respond instantaneously or be able to watch videos and movies at the same level of quality.

It truly is disappointing that the man who pushed the technological and scientific world forward, Mark Dean, is often overshadowed by the world’s most famous tech gurus. Since it’s Black History Month, we should take the opportunity to propel him into the spotlight.


Clock speed is one of your CPU’s key specifications — but what does it really mean?1. “CPU Speed: What Is Cpu Clock Speed?” Intel, https://www.intel.co.uk/content/www/uk/en/gaming/resources/cpu-clock-speed.html

“Mark Dean.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 13 Jan. 2021, https://www.biography.com/inventor/mark-dean.

Martindale, Jon. “What Is a CPU? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.” Digital Trends, Digital Trends, 19 June 2021, https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/what-is-a-cpu/

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