Until the advent of computers, typing was an activity absent in almost all Japanese and Chinese business offices because they contained virtually no typewriters.
Unlike the English character set, comprised of 50 to 60 alphabetical characters and punctuation marks, everyday Japanese and Chinese is comprised of thousands of individuals characters and symbols. The few Japanese and Chinese typewriters that existed were complex machines capable of imprinting thousands of these symbols and characters. These machines were so cumbersome that they were far too inefficient for everyday use. Consequently, as late as the 1980's, the pen was the primary tool of written personal and business communication.
Thus Asian business had to forego use of the computer's office predecessors: mechanical typewriters, electric typewriters, magnetic card machines, and memory typewriters. Incredibly, Japan was able to become a global business force without the aid of these basic business machines which were taken for granted throughout the Western world.
The advent of the personal computer has revolutionized Asian, and particularly Japanese, business life. Software tools now allow relatively efficient Japanese and Chinese text entry by native speakers, while the newer generations of dot matrix and laser printers provide eye pleasing document output of the highly-detailed characters.
Copyright © 1996 Apropos, Inc.