By Christina Frangou

Seattle—On March 3, 1997, Jacques M. Himpens, MD, PhD, a laparoscopic bariatric surgeon in Brussels, performed the world’s first robotic laparoscopic operation: a telesurgical gallbladder operation carried out with “Mona,” Intuitive Surgical’s prototype of the da Vinci robot (Surg Endosc 1998;12[8]:1091).

A few years later, representatives of Intuitive Surgical offered the robot to his former hospital for free. The company was about to go public