|Matsuda Japanese kanji typewriter from 1950, with characters on a spool that |
the user would spin. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Chinese typewriters — long dismissed as less practical and less efficient than alphabetic typewriters — actually pioneered familiar smartphone-era technologies, including predictive text and autocomplete.
The Western typewriter is a highly collectible object with hundreds of collectors and museums. But Chinese typewriters, despite being exquisite machines, are not. Tom Mullaney, an associate professor at Stanford University, is trying to change that.
"Double Pigeon" Chinese Typewriter from Tom Mullaney on Vimeo.
Since 2008, Mullaney has collected 12 machines, four times as many as China’s only typewriter museum in Shanghai. Three of his machines are on display at Stanford’s East Asia Library until Sept. 10, and he recently raised almost $13,500 on Kickstarter to help take the collection on tour across the world.