Archive for June, 2009

Back from the archives

June 30, 2009

How to Build Lin Yutang's MingKwai Machine

I just returned from the archive with an amazing cache of documents about Lin Yutang’s Chinese typewriter, the MingKwai. One of my favorite documents is pictured here: a list of each of the parts out of which the MingKwai was built (you’ll never guess how many).


Two new inventors (and strange ones at that)

June 29, 2009

Reviewing my newest cache of archival documents, I have discovered two more inventors of Chinese typewriters. These are perhaps the strangest of all so far.

Yet another inventor…

June 29, 2009

Reviewing the document from my most recent archives trip, I found yet another inventor of a Chinese typewriter. Like many of his colleagues, his attempted innovation was a system of subdividing and organizing the characters. Here’s a snippet of his system. 

Concept for Chinese character arrangement

From the Chinese typewriter to the Chinese computer…

June 13, 2009

Blurring the Line: From the Chinese Typewriter to the Chinese Computer

I just returned from my third oral history session with the Chinese inventor mentioned in my posts in March and May. This time, Iwas finally equipped with a digital camera, and comfortable enough in our working relationship to use it. I took a whole memory chip’s worth of photographs of the machine, which is exquisite.

I was named a Hellman Faculty Fellow

June 1, 2009

I just received word from the Hellman Faculty Scholars Program that I was named a 2009-10 Hellman Faculty Scholar! This generous award will help fund my research for the Chinese typewriter book.

According to the program literature, the Hellman is designed to “provide financial support and encouragement to young faculty in the core disciplines who show capacity for great distinction in their research and creative activities.”