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Toshiba's Japanese Language Word Processor Receives Prestigious IEEE Milestone Award

4 Nov, 2008
JW-10, Toshiba's first Japanese Language Word Processor ( shipped in 1979)
IEEE milestone plaque

TOKYO--Toshiba Corporation today announced that the company’s JW-10 Japanese Language Word Processor has been certificated under the IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) Milestone Program. The decision acknowledges the immense impact of Toshiba’s development of the JW-10: not only was it Japan’s first word processor, it was a breakthrough that brought the age-old complexity of the Japanese language into the age of computing, and opened the way for information technology to enter into every sphere of modern Japanese life.

The IEEE, the world’s leading professional association for electrical and electronics engineers, established the Milestones Program in 1983 in order to recognize important historical achievements from at least twenty-five years ago in areas of technology represented in IEEE, and that had at least a regional impact. More than eighty milestones have been awarded worldwide, including seven in Japan. The award for Toshiba’s development of the Japanese-language word processor is the eighth Japanese milestone.

IEEE milestone plaques recording the award will be permanently displayed at Toshiba’s Corporate Research & Development Center and at Ome Complex, the two facilities most closely involved in development of the JW-10.

Toshiba started research and development of the Japanese-language word processor in 1971 and developed a practical system, the JW-10, in 1978. It was first demonstrated at an exhibition in October 1978, and the first machine shipped in February 1979. Before the Japanese-language word processor, users of Japanese were eager for a means to produce Japanese text as easily as users of English could type alphanumeric characters, since the thousands of kanji characters, plus two kana phonetic scripts, hiragana and katakana, made it both costly and time consuming to compose typed Japanese text. JW-10 supported easy input of Japanese text with efficient software for kana-to-kanji conversion, plus a display and a high-resolution kanji printer.

Following the release of JW-10, other electronics companies followed Toshiba in developing Japanese-language word processors, and progressively smaller machines were developed and brought to market. The development of smaller word processors  promoted their spread from the office into the home, and also spurred downsizing in technology for printers, LCDs, FDDs, HDDs, and ASICs. Nowadays, software developed for Japanese-language word processors is installed on tens of millions of personal computers and mobile phones in Japan.

Toshiba’s breakthrough in Japanese-language word processing combined modern information technology with kanji and kana characters, the age-old means for the transmission of Japanese culture, and opened the way to making information technology available in every sphere of life for speakers of Japanese.

About IEEE:

The IEEE is a global organization with over 375,000 members in more than 160 countries. Through its membership, IEEE is a leading authority in areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics.

About the IEEE Milestones:

IEEE Milestones honor innovations in the electrical, electronic, information and communications systems fields. The awarded technologies must have stood the test of time, with at least a 25-year history, and have had at least a regional impact. The program was established in 1983, as Electrical Engineering Milestones, and became IEEE Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing in 2000. Prior to selection of the JW-10, seven Milestones recognized Japanese innovations:

  • Directive Short Wave Antenna, Tohoku University, 1995.
  • Mount Fuji Radar System, Japan Meteorological Agency, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., 2000.
  • Tokaido Shinkansen, JR-Tokai, 2000.
  • Electronic Quartz Wristwatch, Seiko Epson Corp., Seiko Corp., 2004.
  • Pioneering Work on Electronic Calculator, Sharp Corp., 2005.
  • Development of VHS, a World Standard for Home Recording, Japan Victor Corp., 2006.
  • Railroad Ticket Examining System, Osaka University., Kintetsu Corp., Omron Corp., Hankyu Corp., 2007.
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