Archive for Japanese Technology

ISDN: The Untravelled Path of Mobile Computing

Remember the days before everyone had a mobile phone? Although it’s hard to imagine these days, but back before everyone had a mobile phone, public payphones and public phone booths were a massively important part of public infrastructure as a form of primitive mobile telephony for making phone calls. But what about data? Although the first battery-powered laptops came out in the 1983, digital mobile phones did not appear until 1992. In a lot of countries, there was no data equivalent of the public payphone and so you were stuck without connectivity until you could get back to your office or home. In Japan, however, things were different.

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Japanese Typewriters

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 »

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Why Japan didn’t create the iPod

At the end of last year, there were a couple of articles about Japan’s failure to be a giant in the new digital age (Newsweek on Why Apple Isn’t Japanese, and there were some interesting comments in a blog response Japan is no longer a leader in Electronics). Unfortunately, the Newsweek article completely ignores the technical background which forms the basis for Japan’s current position in the digital age. In this post, I want to explore this technical background and show why business-types such as CEO’s and Newsweek readers really do need to understand the underlying technical issues of a problem.

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