Emik Avakian

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Emik Avakian
Dr. emik avakian.jpg
Born 1923
Tabriz, Persia
Died July 11, 2013
Chicopee, Massachusetts
Occupation Inventor

Emik Avakian (Armenian: Էմիք Աւաքեան; 1923 – July 11, 2013) was an Armenian American inventor and owner of numerous patents including breath-operated computer, a mechanism that facilities putting wheelchairs on automobiles, and a self operating robotic wheel that converts manual wheel chairs into automatic.[1][2] Many of his inventions were geared towards the improvement of disabled people's lives, and he won many awards recognizing these efforts.[3]


Of Armenian descent, Emik Avakian was born in Tabriz, Persia in 1924.[4][5] Avakian was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy, but this did not affect his cognitive abilities.[1][6] In order to seek medical assistance for Emik, the Avakian family traveled from Persia, to Russia, to Germany, and finally settling in New York City.[5] By the age of thirteen, Emik was already fixing many electrical engineering problems around the household.[5] Although he suffered considerably, Avakian managed to graduate and attained a Magna Cum Laude degree in physics and mathematics from Eureka College.[1] He continued his education at Columbia University and graduated with a M.A. degree.[3][4] Throughout his years as a student, Avakian had trouble communicating with typists who would write down notes for him.[3]

He resided in Massachusetts with his wife Anne until his death.[1]


In order to overcome many of the difficulties he experienced in life, Avakian created a series of inventions. One of his more notable inventions was a typewriter that would produce letter from breath rather than typing.[3] The typewriter would operate according to breath measurement and sound that would be blown into four microphones.[3] Although the mechanism was slow, it was still more cost effective to use the device than to hire an assisting type writer.[7]

Another significant invention was the information retrieval and storage apparatus which was a machine that could display library and archive information more quickly than other methods.[8]


  • In 1961, President of the United States John F. Kennedy honored Avakian for his outstanding contributions to handicap employment.[1][9]
  • Eminent Engineer Award (1979)
  • Armenian Bicentennial Committee's "Excellence in the Field of Science Award" (1976)
  • Shah of Iran Crown Medal (1963)
  • Honorary Doctorate Award of Eureka College (1996)[1]

In addition to his awards, Avakian was featured in renowned and local publications, including Life magazine and Mechanix Illustrated in 1952, 1953, and 1962.

Notable patents[edit]

  • Information Storage, retrieval, and Handling Apparatus United States Patent no. 3,191,006 filed date: Apr. 3, 1962, issue date: Jun. 22, 1965.[10]
  • Energy Projecting and Scanning Apparatus United States Patent no. 3,283,147, filed date: May 9, 1962, issued date: Nov. 1, 1966.[11]
  • Apparatus and System for Interconnecting Circuits and Electronic Components United States Patent no. 3,880,486 filed date: Mar. 5, 1973 issued date: Apr. 2, 1975.[12]
  • Data Entry Devices United States Patent no. 4,077,036, filed Aug 30, 1976, issued Feb 28, 1978.[13]
  • Method of and Apparatus for Motorizing Manually Powered Vehicles United States Patent no. 5,186,269, filed date: Nov 7, 1991, issued date: Feb 16, 1993.[14]
  • Drive System for Wheelchairs or the like United States Patent no. 5,427,193, filed date: Apr. 19, 1993, issued date: Jun 27, 1995.
  • Vehicle Loading System United States Patent no. 5,242,257, filed date Nov. 8, 1991, issued date: Sep. 7, 1993.[15]
  • Flow Control System and Restrictor for use therein United States Patent no. 4,372,304, filed date: Oct 15, 1980, issue date: Feb 8, 1983.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Dr. Emik Avakian '48 a reason to invest". Eureka College. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Partamian, Stepan (2009). Yes, we have: contributions of American-Armenians to the United States of America. Armenian Arts Fund. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Man's Breath Runs Typewriter". Life Magazine. 33 (22): 77. Dec 1, 1952. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Top Engineer Triumphs Over His Handicap". Sunday Herald. August 21, 1960. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Teke: Tau Kappa Epsilon". 1956: 15. Retrieved 5 March 2013. Fortunately, Emik came of sturdy Armenian stock. His parents had reared their palsied son with much love, but without pity, and had traveled half the world — from Persia, to Russia, to Berlin, to New York — seeking medical help. 
  6. ^ Northrup, Eric (June 1953). "Electronics Wizard". Mechanix Illustrated. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Man's Breath Runs Typewriter". Life Magazine. 33 (22): 77. Dec 1, 1952. Retrieved 27 February 2013. Now he has perfected a typewriter which he can operate by sound of his breath blown into four microphones. It is slow but it is more accurate and much cheaper than hiring typists 
  8. ^ "Proud Win for a Man with a Will". Life. 52 (19). May 1962. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Emik Avakian". Employment Security Review. United States Department of Labor, Manpower Administration, Bureau of Employment Security. 29: 33. 1962. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Information Storage, retriebal, and Handling Apparatus" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Energy Project and Scanning Apparatus" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Apparatus and System for Interconnecting Circuits and Electronic Components" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Data Entry Devices" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Method of and apparatus for motorizing manually powered vehicles" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Vehicle Loading System" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Flow control system and restrictor for use therein" (PDF). Google Patents. Retrieved 27 February 2013.