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Kyota Sugimoto (杉本 京太 Sugimoto Kyōta , September 20, 1882 – December 26, 1972) was a Japanese inventor who developed the first practical Japanese typewriter. He received the Blue Ribbon Award and the Small Asahi Ribbon. Out of the thousands of kanji characters, Kyota's typewriter used 2,400 of them.
Kyota Sugimoto was born in Okayama prefecture in 1882. Because of his desire to become a specialist in communication technology, he entered the Training Institute for Communication Technology in Osaka, and completed his studies at the training institute in year 1900. At that time, typewriters were already commonly used in Europe and America, but no practical type of typewriter has been developed yet for the Japanese language, which would make it possible to write Japanese without using a pen.
Because a typewriter which could be used to type Japanese would be very useful if it could be used with a language using complex and difficult characters (kanji), unlike the simple alphabet used in Europe and America, peopled were hoping that such a typewriter would be invented. After he completed his studies at the training institute, Kyota Sugimoto started working in the letterpress technology field, and then turned his attention to development of a typewriter for text in Japanese. At that time, typewriters which could be used to write Japanese utilized characters arranged either on a cylindrical surface or on an arc-shaped surface, but only a few characters were available. He invented a typewriter for Japanese text which is based on an ingenious construction using a cylindrical tool supporting the paper part and a character part moving forward and backward, with a character carriage moving from the left to the right. He obtained the patent rights to the Japanese typewriter that he invented (patent number 27877, in year 1929).
This invention amounted to an epoch making design on which current typewriters for Japanese are based, contributing greatly to efficient processing of documents and creation of different types of documents. In year 1953 he was decorated with the Blue Ribbon Award, and in year 1965 he received the Small Asahi Ribbon Award. He died in year 1972.
Although many Japanese desired to use typewriters, which were in wide use in the early 20th century in the United States and Europe, the structure of foreign-made typewriters, which need relatively few characters, could not be adapted to Japanese text which uses more complicated kanji.
In order to adapt typewriters to kanji, which has a large number of characters, Kyota Sugimoto carefully considered the nature of this writing system, including the frequency of use of characters used in public documents. The 2,400 characters chosen as a result were arranged by classification on a character carriage, and the chosen character was raised by a type bar that could move forward and backward and left and right. The character was then typed against a cylindrical paper supporter. The Japanese typewriter with this innovative structure was patented by Mr. Sugimoto in 1929.
Until the popularization of word processor technology, the Japanese typewriter contributed greatly to increased efficiency of document preparation at Japanese companies and government Offices.