Cable and Wireless Chinese Typewriter

August 26, 2010

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.

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2 Responses to “Cable and Wireless Chinese Typewriter”

  1. bob Says:

    It is cool. have you got the machine?

    • Thomas Mullaney Says:

      Hi Bob, thanks for your comment. This machine is housed in the U.K., at a museum/archive in Cornwall. It was a real treat to be able to see it in person – the only prototype of its kind in existence.


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