Computing

Typing, Transliteration, Word Processing and Publication

Update : December 21, 2021

Typing

Typewriters

  • Remington typewriters were used for typing English text.
  • Olympia was commissioned to produce typewriters for Burmese.
  • Versions : Office, Standard and Portable
  • Red keys were used to type vowels; the carriage did not go forward.
  • Black keys were used to type consonants.
  • Back-spacing for half a step was necessary on the Standard version to type “tha gyee”.
  • Manual dexterity was needed to type “pa sint” characters.
  • The Office edition had extra keys.
  • IBM produced Selectric typewriters.
  • Golf ball-like character sets had to be installed/replaced.

Challenges

  • In the early days we had to type perfectly or reasonably well on typewriters using messy carbons.
  • For mass copies, we had to plan to cyclostyle double-sided printing
    (odd numbered pages first, then repeat with even-numbered pages).

Transliteration

  • Burma Research Society (BRS) used transliteration for its publications.
    For example, “k-o-l” combination represents “ko”.
  • The scheme was used for typing Burmese words on Macintosh.

Word Processing

Word Processor

  • Wang Computers provided word processors for various languages.
    Ko Htay Aung (Victor, EC80) worked at Wang for a while on the “Burmese” language project.
  • Chinese characters were input on the early systems using
    (1) Large tablets
    (2) Three corner method
    (3) Romaji

UCC Projects

  • UCC had Burmese word processing projects.
  • Saya U Myo Min supervised a project for Ma San Yu Hlaing for collation / sorting.
  • Saya U Tun Aung Gyaw and his team (Ko Htay Aung, Ko Soe Myint, …) worked on Cromenco System Three for printing and processing.
  • U Soe Win and team worked on Calcomp graph plotter.

Evolution

  • The evolution has seen various type face/font families, keyboard layouts, Unicode support, …
  • The transition from old fonts (e.g. Zawgyi) to Unicode-compliant fonts is not smooth.

Publication

Spelling Issues

  • Burmese Language Commission bowed to higher authorities to revise the spelling at least two times.
  • Fines were imposed on authors and publishers spelling the established way. (e.g. “ta”) instead of the preferred way (e.g. “tit”) despite the scholars pointing out the old inscriptions at “Bo ta htaung” (not “Bo tit htaung”) pagoda.
  • Children’s Treasury of Knowledge (CTK) project was delayed — after the initial type setting — to correct the spellings.

Censorship

  • It was not easy to write in those days without facing censorship.
  • It was taboo to quote “Dhammata” poem (by Ananda Thuriya).
  • It was a crime to write about the “setting sun”.

Categories: Computing

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