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Latino inventors have created revolutionary devices that have transformed our everyday world—and often changed how we live. These innovations have helped advance technological, pharmaceutical and environmental products that we use daily. Below are a list of inventions by Latinos in the United States and those born in Latin America.
1. Color TV
The upgrades from black-and-white to color television began in the 1960s, thanks to a patent filed in 1940 for a “chromoscopic adapter for television equipment” by Guillermo González Camarena of Mexico. Camarena, an electrical engineer who specialized in electronics at the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, created the first Trichromatic Field Sequential System, a technology that transmits moving images in variations of red, green and blue to achieve a spectrum of color. Prior to González Camarena’s invention, televisions only broadcast images in monochrome.
Luis von Ahn of Guatemala developed the cyber-security system CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA. CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a randomly generated challenge–response test designed to help stop spam bots from accessing computer systems. Von Ahn, a cofounder of language-learning app Duolingo, created the cyber-security technology as a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in 2000. He gave the technology to Yahoo for free as the company was having issues with automated spammers. Today, nearly every online server uses reCAPTCHA, the system’s updated version.
An interventional vascular radiologist, Julio Palmaz of Argentina is known for furthering the advances made in angioplasty surgery, the operation which helps unclog blood arteries and make it easier for blood to flow to the heart. Palmaz worked with cardiologist Richard Schatz to invent a balloon-expandable stent that keeps heart arteries open following an angioplasty. The Palmaz-Schatz Stent received a patent and with the financial support of healthcare company Johnson & Johnson and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2006 Palmaz earned a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.