Did you know that Armenians invented many different things that are part of our contemporary day-to-day lives? Our people have contributed to the world in many fields despite the fact we are a very small nation. In this post, I will talk about some of the most notable inventions of people of Armenian origin. If you have more to add, please ping me on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips.
- Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
- Single-handle faucet
- Coffee vending machine
- Ice cream cone rolling machine
- Hand-held hair dryer
- Color television
- PET scan
- MRI machine
- Concrete mixer truck
- Solar-powered radio
Automated Teller Machine (ATM)
Today many use ATMs for easy access to their finances but few know that ATMs are an Armenian invention. The first person to meet the challenge of creating a machine where people can cash money was Luther George Simijian, an Armenian-American inventor born in 1905 in Aintab, Ottoman Empire.
Although his original invention – Bankograph – was meant for depositing cash, coins and cheques, and didn’t intend to give out cash, it is widely accepted that he was the first to come up with the idea of a hole-in-a-wall style cash operations machine.
He had the first Bankograph under his patent installed in 1961 by the City Bank of New York. But, unfortunately it didn’t have sufficient success among the public. Keep in mind that back then the so-called Bankograph didn’t have cash dispensing features, and only allowed you to deposit money and cheques. The public was cautious, and the machine was only somewhat popular among gamblers and prostitutes who did not want to have face-to-face interaction with the banks when depositing their money.
What truly made ATMs popular as we know them today, was the fact that cards started being used for verifying the identity of the user, and that allowed dispensing cash from your own bank account. This technology coupled with the already existing invention of Simijian drove interest to ATMs across Europe and in Japan later in the 60s.
Being a very avid inventor, Simijian had registered over 200 patents over his lifetime. As he was a passionate photographer at a young age, most of his inventions were in the areas of optics and electronics. Apart from inventing the first prototype of an ATM, he is known for his pioneer work in the creation of a flight simulator, technical improvements of a teleprompter, and several other inventions.
A simple thing like a single faucet pouring hot and cold water did not exist before. The device is called the delta faucet. It was invented in 1952. The inventor behind this device is known to be the head of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Alex Manoogian.
However, it was not fully his invention. Alex Manoogian, the founder of Delta Faucet Company, requested another inventor to design a one-handed faucet. The guy did his job but the device leaked while mixing hot and cold waters. Manoogian made improvements and soon the Delta faucet entered the market. Today a single-handle faucet is known as the invention of Alex Manoogian, an Armenian by nationality.
Coffee vending machine
Few people know that the prototype of the coffee vending machine was created by Cyrus Melikian and Lioyd K. Rudd. The machine was named the Kwik Kafe, and it made instant coffee in a paper cup.
Cyrus Melikian and Lioyd Rudd founded the Rudd-Melikian company. The two were friends from the Second World War. They created the first coffee vending machine but it was not very advanced. It could only mix hot water with instant coffee and pour it into a paper cup. Although quite simplistic in its function, the invention was instrumental in popularizing coffee consumption in the US in the second half of the XX century.
Moving forward, Cyrus Melikian also contributed to several other inventions related to coffee culture in the US, including in-machine coffee bean grinders and even the coffee pods that many of you know and love today.
It’s not surprising to see an Armenian to popularize coffee elsewhere in the world. We love our coffee, it’s a huge part of our culture as it accompanies most of our social interactions. When in Yerevan, I recommend you check out this really cool and hip roastery on Saryan street. See their IG profile below.
Ice cream cone rolling machine
Another Armenian invention is the ice cream cone rolling machine. According to some talks, one ice cream vendor ran out of cups and used waffles to put ice cream on top. Since then, ice cream cones have become the favorite dessert of many people.
The inventor and the patent holder was Harry Tatosian. He was an entrepreneur and had high aspirations and in the course of his life, he patented more than 20 inventions, including the bread slicer.
Tatosian created a machine for rolling ice cream sugar cones. And he must have been really keen about this idea, cause he didn’t manage to patent it straight away, he had to fight for it for 6 more years before the patent was approved in 1936.
Hand-held hair dryer
The inventor of the hand-held hair dryer is known to be Gabriel Kazanjian, an American-Armenian inventor. He patented a blow dryer in the United States in 1911, and in about 10 years the product started being available on the market.
The dryer that Kazanjian patented was less comfortable than what we use today, of course. It was heavy and used only 100 watts. However, Kazanjian’s invention was a big step over the earlier hair dryers, which were large, cumbersome machines and were used only in hair salons. His invention made it possible to dry hair at home which revolutionized the hair care industry forever.
There is some ambiguity about who invented the color television. Officially, John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, and electrical engineer, is known as the inventor of the world’s first live-working television system. That was back in 1926 when it was registered.
So, why do we say that the color television was invented by an Armenian? The fact is that it was an Armenian inventor, and engineer, Hovhannes Adamyan who put together all the research around the three-color system and patented his invention first. Adamyan was born in Baku, as his Armenian parents moved there to work in the Oil Extraction industry. He studied at some of the best universities in Western Europe and had over 20 different inventions patented.
Even though he has never managed to turn his tricolor system invention into an actual working TV “box” we used to have at our homes, the actual invention of live-working television wouldn’t have been possible without his research. So, the first color TV demonstrated in London in 1928 was only made possible thanks to Adamyan’s invention.
John Logie Baird (fourth from left) giving a demonstration of his television. Source: Science & Society Picture Library ©
PET scan or positron emission tomography scan is considered the invention of Michel Ter-Pogossian and his project teammates. These medical devices are currently used to diagnose diseases of organs and/or tissues or other conditions. For example, it may be used to evaluate the condition of the heart or brain. It is especially used in the detection and evaluation of cancer conditions.
Ter-Pogossian is Armenian by nationality. He was born in Berlin to Armenian parents who fled from the Ottoman Empire during the years of genocide. In 1946 Ter-Pogossian moved to the United States and devoted all his time to research. In the last years of his life, he directed the works of the Division of Radiation Sciences at the Mallinckrodt Institute.
That’s not the only major medical invention on the credit of Armenians. MRI Machine also was invented by an Armenian. MRI stands for Magnetic resonance imaging. It is a medical imaging technique. It applies a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves. Through these radio waves, we get detailed images of the organs and tissues of our body, which is essential for the accurate diagnosis of different conditions.
The guy standing behind this invention is Armenian-American physician Raymond Vahan Damadian. He was born to an Armenian family in New York. His early interests were in physics and mathematics but later he moved to medicine, graduating with an M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
His invention of the MRI machine opened a new way to medical professionals to diagnose cancer and conduct follow-ups. It became possible to do medical check-ups for cancer without exposing the patient’s body to ionizing radiation.
Concrete mixer truck
A concrete truck carries mixed concrete to a construction site. It was first invented in the early 1990s. At that time, it weighed about 30,000 pounds and could carry about 40,000 pounds of concrete. Today there are mixer trucks of various sizes.
The guy who invented the concrete mixer truck was Stephen Stepanian. He filed a patent application in 1916 and finally got it approved in 1933. Stepanian was an Armenian American and owned many patents. The name of Stepanian is known as the inventor of the self-discharging motorized transit mixer which is the predecessor to the concrete mixer. However, he is often recalled as the “father of the ready-mix concrete industry”.
Solar powered radio
A solar power radio is a radio that operates without batteries and is powered by photovoltaic technology. It absorbs energy from the sun and makes the radio work. I remember I had a calculator like that when I was a kid, and now I realize probably the same technology was used there as in the first sunlight-powered radio devices.
The solar-powered radio was first invented in the 1950s. It contained several solar cells, four transistors, and a small battery. The guy behind this invention is Sarkis Acopian. He was an Armenian born in Tabriz, where his family ended up escaping the genocide in the Ottoman Empire. In 1945 he emigrated to the United States from Iran. Soon after immigration he founded his own company, Acopian Technical Company, where he invented the first-ever solar radio and continued working on other technologies afterwards
So, next time when you use a blow dryer or eat ice cream in a cone, remember that these are just some of the things that the Armenians invented, which changed the world. As you could see some of these inventions were in the medical field. I’m really happy to see that this field is growing and developing in Armenia. Medical tourism is also gaining in popularity. So, if you want to learn more about how one can do nose surgery in Armenia and get dental implants done while visiting our country, check out those links. Lastly, if you know of other cool inventions by Armenians, let me know on Twitter or Instagram with #ArmeniaTravelTips. I love hearing from my readers.
Featured image credits: photo by Gratisography on Pexels (edited)
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