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A Chinese typewriter, 1899

A Chinese Typewriter 1899

Writes Scientific American in 1899, “Some little time ago we referred to the various typewriters of the world, and stated that, up to the present time, no machine had ever been invented for use with the Chinese language. We are now informed, however, that the Rev. D.Z. Sheffield, of the American Board Mission, President of the T’ung-cho College, for Chinese students, has invented and perfected a remarkable typewriter, which bids fair to revolutionize the writing of Chinese, especially for foreigners, who have in most cases turned their whole attention to the speaking and reading of the language, and have avoided the great difficulty of learning to writ it.”

The periodical goes on to report “that Dr. Sheffield’s machine saves a great amount of both time and labor,” as the Chinese language is quite complex. Judging from the engravings, it doesn’t look like a remarkable time saver, but perhaps Chinese really is that difficult.

Robert Messenger offers an extensive history of Chinese-language typewriters here. I offer scans of Scientific American below. I also include the cover story on the Italian navy, from the periodical’s “Navies of the World” series.

Click images to view larger size.

Scan 1 Scan Scan 2 Scan 3 Scan 4

Here are two advertisements, enlarged, from the back page.

Typewriter Exchange ad 1899 with Remington Standard No. 2 Smith Premier Ad in Scientific American 1899

© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tony May 10, 2014, 4:09 am

    I enjoyed the Scientific American articles, especially the ads. The slogan, “Do this”, is eerily close to Nike’s famous one.

  • Mark Adams May 10, 2014, 4:58 am

    I’m particularly fond of the “Self-Moving” motor carriage!

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