Skip to Main Content
The complexity of Chinese characters has presented major obstacles to modern international communication. The lack of a system for manipulating and entering more than 50,000 monosyllabic and nonalphabetic symbols on computers, typewriters, printing presses, and the telex has led to many problems. One of the primary difficulties encountered in attempts to computerize both Chinese and Japanese is the encoding of characters. During the past century, scholars and experts have struggled to devise new coding systems. More than 100 methods (30 in Taiwan alone) have been released in their respective homelands and abroad. Roughly speaking, input systems can be divided into four categories: those based on whole characters, those based on the phonetic value of characters, those based on the arrangement of symbols (radicals) within a character, and those based on the division of characters into radicals or similar patterns. There are fewer problems encountered in processing the computer output of Chinese characters and Japanese kanji than in formulating the input. Since images of characters are stored in the form of dot matrices, the output devices (either printers or CRT displays) must be able to produce the same type of images, aided by the necessary software and firmware. Many input systems for Chinese and Japanese are workable. All of them, however, are still at the pioneer stage. More effort needs to be invested in improving input systems to help them reach their full potential. As more sophisticated hardware and software become available, it will be possible to achieve this aim.