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The Mystery Woman Who Mastered IBM’s 5,400-character Chinese Typewriter

In the 1940s, Kao Chung-chin invented a typewriter that would produce 5,400 Chinese characters, plus letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks. To use the machine, the typist had to depress four of the 36 keys at once, which meant memorizing four-digit codes for the needed characters. IBM manufactured the machine, which was demonstrated in a 1947 film. The young woman who typed on the machine made it look easy. How did she do it? And who was she, anyway? Tom Mullaney spent years trying to find her, and after he did, spent years getting an interview. Lois Lew is now 95 years old, and has a fascinating story. She arrived in the US for an arranged marriage as an undereducated 16-year-old. Read the story of how Lew became the star of IBM's campaign to sell the Chinese typewriter at Fast Company. -via Damn Interesting


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