If you hear the word Morse Code, you probably imagine people tapping on a key and listening to the code through headphones or perhaps on old-style buzzer. However, this was not how Morse originally conceived his telegraph. Here is the first patent Morse filed for his invention (filed in the 1830s and granted in the 1840s).
The Wheatstone needle telegraph operated based on 5 needles that could tilt to the left or right. Owing to the simplicity of the device, there’s not much detail to show. However, the design is interesting in how it differs from how we would build a similar device using modern ideas. First, here is a picture of an actual telegraph machine (from Wikipedia):
The letter-printing telegraph patented by Royal Earl House in the 1830s was one of the first devices to operate under virtually the same principles as modern computer terminals. They had a keyboard for typing in letters, which were then transmitted down a wire. They also had a printer for printing out the signal they received from the wire as letters on paper. (So theoretically, you should be able to hook one of these up to a modern Linux box as a /dev/tty device.) However, electronics in the 1800s were not particularly advanced, and it turns out that the biggest improvements that could be made to the device was the addition of steam-power. Read the rest of this entry »
This page shows the detail of the hydraulic regulator in the letter-printing telegraph described here.
This is the receiving station for the letter-printing telegraph described here. This is a lot more complex than the transmitter, so we’ll break it into stages. This first stage is responsible for converting the electrical signal back into a mechanical signal. Here is the pic from the patent.
This is an example of one of the first letter-printing telegraphic devices where the sending operator press alphabetically labeled keys and the receiver unit printed the letters on a strip of paper. The patent was filed sometime in the late 1830s and granted in 1846. At the time, electric components were pretty much limited to electromagnets and batteries. Thus, most of the operation of the apparatus is achieved through clock-work mechanical means. I’ll go through the patent starting from the sending station, but the magic all happened at the receiver.
Recently, there has been a kind of fad in the west where people get all nostalgic about the days of 8-bit computers. The epitome of the 8-bit computing days was the low-res graphics, with characters typically rendered using the bare minimum number of pixels. Of course, technology has advanced since the days of the Commodore 64, and since the advent of sub-pixel rendering (called ClearType in Windows), in particular, the blockiness of text rendered on a computer screen has become barely perceptible for the Latin (i.e. English) alphabet. However, the Latin alphabet is not the only script in the world, and a more interesting question from the perspective of internationalization and globalization is how more complex scripts are rendered in modern times.
With several thousand characters to contend with, how were the Japanese able to use typewriters before the advent of digital technology? The answer is the kanji typewriter (和文タイプライター or 邦文タイプライター), which was invented by Kyota Sugimoto in 1915. This invention was deemed so important that it was selected as one of the ten greatest Japanese inventions by the Japanese Patent Office during their 100th anniversary celebrations in 1985. Here are some photos of that first model. Read the rest of this entry »
The advent of Unicode has been a huge boon for developers, enabling applications to run on computers throughout the world with little or no effort on the part of the developer. However, there are several quirks in East Asian operating systems that can make applications developed in the west frustrating or difficult to use when installed on an East Asian computer. This post looks at the most basic issues that every application developer should know. Although I focus on Japanese and Windows in this post, many of the issues are equally applicable to Chinese and Korean, as well as other operating systems.
One of the questions that I see come up a lot is about how Japanese text can be written using a computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device. Since it is a fairly important process for understanding the development of technology in Japan, I thought I would detail the process here.