Everyday Life Inventions That Are Filipino

Inventions by Filipino inventors include the graphics accelerator chip, wearable camera, and the lunar rover.

Everyday Life Inventions That Are Filipino
Lunar rover

The next time you watch a video on your PC or play a video game, consider thanking Filipino inventor Diosdado Banatao who invented the graphics accelerator chip for personal computers.

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Banatao was born to a poor rice farmer in 1946, and walked barefoot on a dirt road to elementary school. Following high school, Banatao graduated from the Mapúa Institute of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering. He then went to work for Philippine Airlines as a pilot, but was soon working in the U.S. at the Boeing Corporation.

Bonatao attended prestigious Stanford University, where he graduated in 1972 with a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Working at Commodore International, Banatao designed the first single chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator, which endeared him to high school students everywhere.

Banatao was then credited with creating the first system logic chip set for IBM's PC-XT and the PC-AT, the local bus concept, and the first Windows graphics accelerator chip for personal computers. This latter discovery allowed computers to work much faster, and allowed users to interact with computers graphically rather than just through the command line.

Banatao went on to receive a Ph.D. from Stanford University in mixed-signal CMOS IC design, and he has received numerous awards, co-authored 13 papers, and holds six U.S. patents.

The Lipstick Camera

Just before the turn of the 21st Century, Filipino Marc Loinaz invented the one chip video camera. Working with a team at Lucent Technologies in the U.S., they were tasked with creating a camera that was so cheap and used so little electrical power, that it could be integrated into things, such as watches and appliances.

Wearable camera
Wearable camera

Earlier video cameras generated images by using charge-coupled devices (CCDs), but CCDs could not occupy the same silicon chip as image sensors. Loinax and his team got the analog circuits to occupy the same chip as the digital signal processing circuits by teaching them to ignore one another.

Loinax described the process as: "We scheduled operations on the chip so that during all the sensitive analog operations, we shut down the digital circuits." Today, these so-called "lipstick cameras" show up on daredevil's bodies, Formula 1 racing cars, and the table rail of poker tables during tournaments, where they "spy" on players' cards.

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A Passion for Children

In 1933, Filipino woman Fe Del Mundo completed her medical education at the University of the Phillippines. Then Philippine president Manuel Quezon, provided her a scholarship to continue her medial education anywhere she wanted, and she chose to study pediatrics at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1941, Del Mundo returned to the Philippines just before that country was invaded by Japan. Del Mundo worked with internees during that tumultuous time, and following the war, she went on to establish her own pediatric hospital.

Infant incubator
Incubator

Completed in 1957, the Children's Medical Center in Quezon City was the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines. The use of the incubator for premature babies was pioneered at the hospital.

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Joy Riding on the Moon

In 1971, the Apollo 12 mission to the moon used the first "Moon Buggy" to explore the moon's surface. Created by a team at NASA that included Filipino mechanical engineer Eduardo San Juan, the Lunar Rover was also used during last three Apollo lunar missions, 15, 16 and 17, which took place during 1971 and 1972.

Weighing 460 pounds, the rover was designed to hold a payload of 1,080 pounds. It was 10 feet long, with a wheelbase of 7.5 feet, and was 3.6 feet tall. The rover had a three-part chassis that was hinged in the middle so that it could be folded up and hung in the Lunar Module Quadrant 1 bay. Today, three abandoned lunar rovers remain on the moon.

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