11 Famous Armenians (Their works & Inventions)

Armenia has given many talents and professionals to the world, including famous Armenians, among them musicians, doctors, scientists, and more. Many of these Armenian men were born elsewhere, but they proved their dedication to their motherland with their actions.

In this article, we will get to know world-famous people who are less known as Armenians.

Andy Serkis: English Actor, Narrator and Film Director

Actor Andy Serkis
Actor Andy Serkis with his beautiful family

Andrew Clement Serkis (ethnic Armenian) was born on April 20th, 1964, in Ruislip Manor in Middlesex. His mother was English, and his father was an Iraqi-born Armenian.

Andy Serkis is best known for his performance capture roles, animation, and voice work for computer-generated characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey, Caesar in The Planet of Apes reboot series, and so on.

Yousuf Karsh: Portrait Photographer

Yousouf Karsh
Self portrait by Yousouf Karsh

Awarded Order of Canada’s Highest Honor

Yousuf Karsh was born in Mardin, Armenia on December 23rd, 1908. His family had to endure the Armenian genocide in 1915 and the hardship of the years following it. In 1922 they were allowed to flee, on foot; they had a month-long journey with a Bedouin and Kurdish caravan before reaching Aleppo, Syria.
Karsh later went to live with his uncle Nakash, a photographer of established reputation, and the events after that changed the face of the boy who was dreaming of becoming a doctor.
Yousuf Karsh was the photographer of many famous people. He died in 2002 in Boston.

Alain Prost: Four-Time World Formula 1 Drivers’ Champion

alain prost famous Armenian Formula one driver
Formula 1 champ Alain Prost

Alain Prost was born on February 24th 1955 near the town of Saint-Chamond, in the family of Andre Prost and Marie-Rose Karatchian – born in France of Armenian descent.

The famous Armenian Prost is a four-time World Formula 1 Drivers’ Champion (1985, 1986, 1989, 1993). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Prost set several records, and only Michael Schumacher managed to break them a decade later.

In March 2007, he was awarded the “Armenian Cesar”, which is considered the highest award of the Armenian community of France.

Oscar H. Banker: Inventor of Automatic Transmission

Oscar H Banker

Oscar Banker was born Asatour Sarafian in the Ottoman Empire in 1895 to an Armenian family. He left the Ottoman Empire as a teenager and settled in Chicago.

Besides inventing the automatic transmission, Sarafian has also contributed to aviation mechanics. He invented the primary control of the first Sikorsky helicopter and a pneumatic inoculation gun.

Hovhannes Adamian: Pioneer of Color Television

Hovhannes Adamian inventor of color TV

Born on February 5th, 1879 in Baku, Adamian was an Armenian engineer, an author of more than 20 inventions. He is recognized as one of the founders of color television. The first experimental color television was shown in London in 1928 based on Adamian’s tricolor principle.

Emik Avakian: Inventor of Motorized Wheelchair

Emik Avakian was an Armenian American inventor and owner of numerous patents, including the breath-operated computer, a mechanism that facilitates putting wheelchairs on automobiles, and the self-operating robotic wheel that converts manual wheelchairs into automatic ones.

Many of his inventions were geared toward improving disabled people’s lives, and he won many awards recognizing these efforts.
Born with cerebral palsy, he did not let his disability stop enjoying life the best way he could.

Raymond Damadian: Inventor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machine

Raymond Damadian
Passed away lately on  August 3, 2022

Raymond Vahan Damadian was born on March 16th, 1936, and is an American physician and medical practitioner of Armenian descent. He built the world’s first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. He performed the first full-body scan in 1977 after discovering that tumors and normal tissue emit response signals that differ in wavelength.

Luther Simjian: Inventor of Ultrasound and Author of More Than 200 Inventions

Luther Simijian inventor of Ultra sound

Luther Simjian (1905-1997) was an Armenian-American inventor and entrepreneur. He was born in Turkey and was separated from his family due to the Armenian genocide. He fled to Beirut, then to Marseille, and eventually to the United States at age 15.

Simjian initially intended to study medicine, but his plans were changed after the medical school at Yale gave him a job in its photographic laboratory. Soon he developed a way of projecting microscopic images and photographing specimens underwater.

In 1934 he moved to New York, where he developed a color X-ray machine and a self-posing portrait camera.

Although Simjian was the author of more than 200 inventions, he is perhaps most famous for inventing the Bankmatic automatic teller machine (ATM).

Arthur Bulbulian: Inventor of Oxygen Mask

Arthur Bulbulian Inventor of Oxygen Mask

Arthur H. Bulbulian was a pioneer of Armenian origin in the field of oxygen masks and, more broadly, facial prosthetics. His work in the Aero Medical Unit of the Mayo Clinic led to the creation of the A-14 oxygen mask for the US Air Force in 1941.

The A-14 mask for combat pilots was frost-resistant, included a microphone for radio communications, and allowed pilots to talk and eat with the mask on.

Born in 1900 in Caesarea, the Ottoman Empire, Bulbulian moved to the United States in 1920. He attended Middlebury College, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

He did more graduate work at the University of Iowa, as well as at Brown University. In 1928, Bulbulian enrolled in the School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota and received a doctoral degree in dental surgery.

Giacomo Luigi Ciamician: Inventor of Photochemistry

Giacomo Luigi Ciamician Inventor of Photochemistry

Giacomo Luigi Ciamician was an ingenious scientist whose work in organic chemistry and plant chemistry led him to found the field of organic photochemistry. He believed that the sun’s power could be harnessed as an energy source.

Giacomo Luigi Ciamician was born on August 27, 1857, in Trieste, Italy, to an Armenian merchant’s family. He received his school education in Trieste. Thanks to Augusto Vierthaler, his teacher, he became interested in chemistry.

In the field of organic chemistry, Ciamician was involved in the study of components of natural resin. In 1885, thanks to him, he discovered an antiseptic substance called iodol, which was considered a most important contribution to pharmacology.

His major contribution to plant chemistry was the discovery that chlorophyll activity was stimulated by the effects of caffeine or “norobromine” (chocolate caffeine) in plants, which leads to starch production. This showed that alkaloids are not a waste of plant life but have a rather important role as hormones in the animal world.

Ciamician is also considered to be the prophet of the solar energy idea. For many years, studying the effects of light on chemical reactions, he realized the potential of solar energy application to humanity and industry.
1912 Ciamician even built a solar battery and placed it on the roof of his laboratory. It gave enough energy to charge a lamp in the room. His study eventually led to the idea that sunlight could be used as an energy source.

After his death, one of the streets of Trieste, where he spent his childhood, was renamed Giacomo Ciamician Street. Bologna University’s Chemistry Institute is also named after him. In 1997, Yerevan Applied Chemistry College was named after him too.

Christopher Ter-Serobyian: Inventor of the Dollar Paint

Christopher Ter-Serobyian Inventor of the Dollar Paint

Although everybody is familiar with the American dollar bill, not many people know that Christopher Ter-Serobyan, a young talented chemist, was the creator of the specific color of the dollar bill.

The greenish color cannot be forged. In 1854 he was invited to America from Istanbul to make it impossible to counterfeit the US dollar. Later he became a pharmacist with the help of the $6,000 he received for his work and returned to Istanbul.

This is not the full list of the prominent famous Armenians who, by fate, had to live in other parts of the world and become known for their colossal works.

This may be one of the reasons Armenia and Armenians are not well-known to the world. Hopefully, from now on, we will have more opportunities to stay and create in our motherland, in one and only Armenia.

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Garo Kotchounian

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One thought on “11 Famous Armenians (Their works & Inventions)

  1. Who else are we missing? Comment the name of a famous Armenian inventor, and what they invented so we can add them to this article.

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