Category Archives: Armenian Inventors

Creation of High-Altitude A-14 Oxygen Mask

Arthur H. Bulbulian was a pioneer of Armenian descent in the field of facial prosthetic.

His work as a part of the Mayo Clinic Aero Medical Unit led to his being credited with the creation of the A-14 oxygen mask for the United States Air Force in 1941. The A-14 fighter pilot’s mask was frost proof, and included a microphone for radio communication, and allowed the pilot to talk and eat while wearing it.


World War II era flying helmet and oxygen mask


He was a member of a team which included Drs. W. Randolph Lovelace and Walter M. Boothby, developing the BLB (Boothby, Lovelace and Bulbulian) nasal and orinasal oxygen mask. This invention became useful for clinical settings, and, as it turned out, for aviators at high altitudes. The BLB and A-14 oxygen mask was used in combat in World War II .

Dr. Bulbulian also was the first director of the Mayo Medical Museum, and as such, developed content with staff doctors, and built the exhibits. This was the first medical museum in the United States. He also designed and created the exhibits for the Mayo Clinic’s display at the 1933 “A Century of Progress Exposition,” at the Chicago Worlds Fair.

Born on December 20, 1900, near Caesarea in the Ottoman Empire, he moved to the United States in 1920. He attended Middlebury College, where he received a B.S. and M.S. degree in Science. He did more graduate work at Brown University and the University of Iowa. In 1928, he entered the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and received the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery. In 1931 he was appointed as an instructor in orthodontics at the same school.

Famous Armenians: Emik Avakian

Emik Avakian is a role model for endurance. Born with cerebral palsy, Avakian graduated Magna Cum Laude with degrees in Physics and Mathematics. He subsequently earned advanced degrees in the same subjects from Columbia University in New York city and went on to patent many inventions that help disabled persons be more self-sufficient.

Life Magazine- Dec 1, 1952
Life Magazine- Dec 1, 1952


Among those inventions are:

  1. breath-operated computer,
  2. a counter-weighted system that makes it easier to put wheelchairs in cars- vehicle loading system patented September 7, 1993
  3. self-propelled robotic wheel for converting manual wheel chairs to automatic- patented June 27, 1995
  4. the stored function calculator patented September 16, 1952
  5. Cybertype
  6. Cyberphone
  7. Cybercom
  8. information storage, retrieval and handling apparatus patented June 22, 1965

More patents can be found at:

His contributions were so extraordinary that Avakian was honored by President Kennedy in 1961 for the “Most Outstanding Contribution to Employment of the Handicapped.” Other honors include Tau Beta Pi’s “Eminent Engineer Award” (1979), the Armenian Bicentennial Committee’s “Excellence in the Field of Science Award” (1976), and the Shah of Iran Crown Medal (1963). In 1996, Eureka College also presented him with the Honorary Doctorate Award for his personification of the ideals valued by the college.


Father of the USSR Supercomputers

Boris Artashesovich Babayan was born in Baku, on 20 December, 1933. He is a computer architect, notable as the pioneering creator of supercomputers in the Soviet Union.

Ethnic Armenian, Babayan was born in Baku to an Armenian family. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1957 and completed his Ph.D. in 1964, with his doctorate of science in 1971.

From 1956 to 1996, Babayan worked in the Lebedev Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Engineering, where he eventually became Chief of the hardware and software division. Babayan and his team built their first computers during the 1950s. In the 1970s, being one of 15 deputies of chief architect V. S. Burtsev, he worked on the first superscalar computer, the Elbrus-1. Using these computers in 1978, ten years before commercialapplications appeared in the West, the Soviet Union developed its missile systems and its nuclear and space programs.

A team headed by Babayan designed Elbrus-3 computer using an architecture named Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC).

From 1992 to 2004, Babayan held senior positions in the Moscow Center for SPARC Technology and Elbrus International. In these roles he led the development of Elbrus2000 (single-chip implementation of Elbrus-3) and Elbrus90micro (SPARC computer based on domestically developed microprocessor) projects.

Since August 2004, Babayan is the Director of Architecture for the Software and Solutions Group in Intel Corporation and scientific advisor of the Intel R&D center in Moscow. He leads efforts in such areas as compilers, binary translation and security technologies. He became the second European holding the Intel Fellow title (after Norwegian, Tryggve Fossum).

Babayan was awarded the two highest honors in the former Soviet Union: the USSR State Prize for his achievements in 1974 in the field of computer-aided design, and the Lenin Prize in 1987 for the Elbrus-2 supercomputer design. Since 1984, he has been a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (later – Russian Academy of Sciences). As of 2007, he serves as a professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and holds the Microprocessor Technology chair in Moscow based R&D center of Intel Corporation.

Father of PET

Michel M. Ter-Pogossian (1925 – June 19, 1996) was an Armenian-American physicist who is one of the fathers of positron emission tomography (PET), the first functional brain imaging technology. PET could effectively be used to evaluate what areas of the brain were active during various mental processes versus looking at the structure of the brain through conventional CT.

Ter-Pogossian was born in Berlin, the only child of Armenian parents who had settled in Germany after escaping the Armenian Genocide during World War I. The family moved to France when Michel was a young child. He earned degrees in science from the University of Paris and from the Institute of Radium. In 1946, he emigrated to the United States to attend Washington University of St. Louis; he later joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine. He was married and had three children and five grandchildren.

PET scanning is one of the most promising techniques for cancer detection and has applications in monitoring heart disease. The development of new radioligands may allow more uses of positron emission tomography for other areas in medicine.

The technique uses the injection of ultrashort acting radioactive substances commonly bound to water or deoxyglucose. The deoxyglucose method directly measures brain metabolism whereas the radioactively labelled water is effective at measuring brain blood flow.


Kirlian photography is a collection of photographic techniques used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who, in 1939 accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a high-voltage source, an image is produced on the photographic plate. The technique has been variously known as “electrography”, “electrophotography”, “corona discharge photography” (CDP), “bioelectrography”,”gas discharge visualization (GDV)”, “eletrophotonic imaging (EPI)”, and, in Russian literature, “Kirlianography”.

Kirlian photography has been the subject of mainstream scientific research, parapsychology research and art. To a large extent, It has been co-opted by promoters of pseudoscience and paranormal health claims in books, magazines, workshops, and web sites.

Semyon Kirlian was born in Yekaterinodar, now Krasnodar, Russia, to an Armenian family. He possessed an early interest in, and aptitude for, working with electricity. Just before the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kirlian attended a conference in his home city at which Nikola Tesla held talks and demonstrations; Tesla was one of Kirlian’s predecessors in the field of corona discharge photography. In the 1930s Kirlian earned his living as an electrician in Krasnodar, near the eastern coast of the Black Sea in southern Russia—then the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR), part of the Soviet Union. He married Valentina Khrisanovna in 1930.

By 1939 Kirlian had acquired a reputation as the best local resource for repairing electrical equipment, and was regularly called upon to fix the apparatus of scientists and laboratories in the area. In that year, he happened to witness a demonstration of a high-frequency d’Arsonval electrotherapy device. He noticed that there was a small flash of light between the machine’s electrodes and the patient’s skin, and wondered if he would be able to photograph it. (Kirlian was not the first person to witness this phenomenon, though the urge to photograph and investigate it seems to have been original with him.) Experimenting with similar equipment, he replaced glass electrodes with metal substitutes to take photographs in visible light; at the price of a severe electrical burn, he was able to take an unusual and striking photograph of an apparent energy discharge around his own hand.

Over the next ten years he and his wife developed and perfected apparatus for what we now call Kirlian photography. They employed a high-frequency oscillator or spark generator that operated at 75 to 200 kHz. They took photographs with no camera, merely with electric current and photographic film. The Kirlians then moved beyond static photography, to develop an optical filter that allowed them to witness the phenomenon in real time; they saw miniature fireworks displays of light and color playing around their hands.

Gradually the Kirlians’ activity began to attract attention from professional scientists. Kirlian made controversial claims that the image he was studying might be compared with the human aura. An experiment advanced as evidence of energy fields generated by living entities involves taking Kirlian contact photographs of a picked leaf at set periods, its gradual withering being said to correspond with a decline in the strength of the aura. The Kirlians made many photographs of the leaves of various plants; by 1949, it was determined that Kirlian photography could detect incipient plant disease that was not otherwise detectable. In the same year, the Kirlians received a Soviet patent on their basic device, “a method of photographing by means of high-frequency currents.” Experimenting further upon themselves, the Kirlians acquired the first results showing that Kirlian photography could provide an index of a person’s physical health, and could illuminate the acupuncture points of the human body.

It was not until the early 1960s, however, that the Kirlians’ efforts attracted widespread recognition and official support, once popular journalists wrote a series of newspaper and magazine articles about Kirlian photography. The Kirlians were awarded a pension and were provided with a pleasant new apartment and a well-equipped laboratory in Krasnodar. Their first scientific paper on Kirlian photography was published in 1961, in the (Russian) Journal of Scientific and Applied Photography. Scientific institutions around the Soviet Union were set to work on Kirlian photography in 1962. The first appearance in the US is unknown, but an educational film about Kirlian photography and energy emissions from living things was seen in a Southern California elementary school about 1964.

In Michael Scott’s bestselling novel The Alchemyst, the protagonist, Nicholas Flamel, notes that the aura has been photographed by the Kirlians.

The IDM artist Benn Jordan, aka “The Flashbulb,” wrote a string of songs on various albums that refer to Kirlian in the title.

Kirlian photography plays a major part in Kerryn Offord’s Feng Shui for the Soul, in Grantville Gazette VI.

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