DiscoverRadiolabThe Wubi Effect
The Wubi Effect

The Wubi Effect

Update: 2020-08-1484
Share

Description

When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huawei and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China’s technological renaissance almost didn’t happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn’t fit on a keyboard. 


Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today.


This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang.


Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com


Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

Comments (4)

Dongsong Tian

❤️

Sep 2nd
Reply

Christopher Donaghue

pinyin typing on a cellphone, what I do every day, is actually probably more efficient than typing out English.

Aug 23rd
Reply

Edward Piper

wasn't the layout of the typewriter designer to slow down typists so the heads dont crash together..? Seems a little tinfoil hat-ish

Aug 17th
Reply

BC

I only know how to type in pinyin and now I'm a little salty

Aug 16th
Reply
In Channel
Deception

Deception

2020-11-1959:10

Breaking Benford

Breaking Benford

2020-11-1331:03

Bloc Party

Bloc Party

2020-11-0251:52

What If?

What If?

2020-10-2342:12

No Special Duty

No Special Duty

2020-10-0246:34

Insomnia Line

Insomnia Line

2020-09-2537:39

Falling

Falling

2020-09-1758:15

Fungus Amungus

Fungus Amungus

2020-09-0432:16

Translation

Translation

2020-08-2701:05:30

Lebanon, USA

Lebanon, USA

2020-08-2142:51

The Wubi Effect

The Wubi Effect

2020-08-1455:50

Uncounted

Uncounted

2020-08-0751:15

Invisible Allies

Invisible Allies

2020-07-3142:53

Baby Blue Blood Drive

Baby Blue Blood Drive

2020-07-2401:07:21

Dispatches from 1918

Dispatches from 1918

2020-07-1701:11:54

loading
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store
00:00
00:00
x

0.5x

0.8x

1.0x

1.25x

1.5x

2.0x

3.0x

Sleep Timer

Off

End of Episode

5 Minutes

10 Minutes

15 Minutes

30 Minutes

45 Minutes

60 Minutes

120 Minutes

The Wubi Effect

The Wubi Effect

WNYC Studios