As part of my exploratory work this summer, I visited the Cable and Wireless Archives in Porthcurno (part of the famous Porthcurno Telegraph Museum).
My job here, in addition to reading through extensive collections on the history of Chinese telegraphy, was to get the “other side of the story.” For the past year, I’ve been conducting an oral history with a Chinese-American engineer responsible for inventing a late Chinese typewriter/early Chinese word processor that, from what I can tell so far, revolutionized the newspaper industry in Taiwan (as well as the yellow pages, Taiwan’s equivalent of the IRS, and others). One of his primary competitors along the way were two British inventors working out of Cambridge, whose design for a Chinese “computer” caught the interest of the Cable and Wireless company. They built a prototype, and after many months of searching, I finally tracked it down. This is going to be a very important part of the story.
Notice that the characters are arranged according to Cantonese romanization – which makes sense, since the intended market was Hong Kong. This is the only time I’ve ever seen such an arrangement.