I’m excited to find that my China Beat article on the Chinese typewriter has been making the rounds in cyberspace. Thanks so much to History News Network and Holtz Center for STS at UW-Madison for their interest.
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I’ve just returned from my second oral history session with the inventor first mentioned in my March post. Our rapport is developing nicely, as evidenced by his willingness to show me more private documents from his old company, and to allow me to tour the facilities. I was also able to present him with documents from the archive, which he was delighted (and somewhat surprised) to see. “How did you find these?” he asked, in a tone mixed with joy (at seeing documents from many decades ago) and shock (that a junior scholar could find them, I suppose). That felt good, and also prompted more in-depth discussion.
Out of all the inaccurate content about the Chinese typewriter online, I think my favorite pertains to the “Shu Zhengdong’s Chinese Typewriter.”
Shu Zhendong was an early inventor of a Chinese typewriter, and “Shu Zhendong’s Chinese Typewriter” was a short animated film (the first in Chinese history) created to advertise his machine. The wikipedia article, however, proposes the following translations of “Shu Zhendong”:
There are 2 possible translations [for Shu Zhendong]. The first translation is “Comfortably Raised Eastern Chinese Typewriter”, likely a generic marketing name. The second translation maybe “Comfortable Zhendong Chinese Typewriter” as in the town of Zhendong (振东) in the Binhai county located in the Jiangsu province . Which happens to be directly north of Shanghai, where the pioneering Wan brothers were doing animation experiments at the time.
This blog will chart the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of researching and writing my new book, The Chinese Typewriter.