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Thomas Mullaney – The Search for Mod China: How Chinese Computing Hacked Modernity

May 4, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Speaker: Thomas Mullaney, Professor of History, Stanford University

During the global rise of consumer PCs in the 1980s, no Western-manufactured computer, printer, monitor, operating system, or software could handle Chinese character input or output. Not “out of the box,” at least. The “Sinicization” of personal computing depended upon a messy, decentralized, and often brilliant series of Chinese hacks and modifications—or “mods,” as the term is often abbreviated within computing circles. Western-built dot-matrix printers were modded. Western-designed disc operating systems were modded. Digital Chinese fonts were custom-designed, pixel by pixel. Basic Input-Output Software (BIOS) was modded. Element by element, engineers in China and elsewhere rendered Western-manufactured computing hardware and software compatible with Chinese. In this talk, Stanford historian Thomas S. Mullaney draws from his forthcoming book The Chinese Computer: A History (MIT Press) to examine an unwritten chapter in the global history of computing—one too often dismissed as “copycatting,” “mimicry,” “piracy,” and “theft.”

Supported by the Asia Center and convened by Professor, Victor Seow, Department of the History of Science.

Presented via Zoom
Registration Required
Register at: https://tinyurl.com/ycp2nkk8


May 4, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


Harvard University Asia Center

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