San Diego Chinese Historical Museum First Stop in Largest Global Exhibition Tour of Chinese Typewriters

January 3, 2017

SAN DIEGO, CA–The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum (SDCHM) will launch the international tour of Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age, which explores the seemingly impossible, yet technologically crucial Chinese typewriter – a machine that types a language with no alphabet, yet has more than 70,000 characters. The exhibition, curated by award-winning Stanford historian Dr. Thomas S. Mullaney, will be in Downtown San Diego at SDCHM from January 21 – April 16 before it moves to the SFO Airport Museum, the Museum of Chinese in America in New York and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“These are fascinating and irresistible engineering puzzles,” said Dr. Mullaney. “It’s extremely fitting to be able to launch this exhibit in a museum with so much character and history in what was San Diego’s Chinatown. I look forward to intriguing local and global audiences with these machines that inspired modern Chinese technology and transformed the way we approach information technology today.”

The exhibit is composed of Dr. Mullaney’s personal collection, which is the largest Chinese and Pan-Asian typewriter and I.T. collection in the world and will highlight artifacts and materials from the fields of printing, telegraphy, typewriting and computing in China, Japan and Korea, the first of its kind.

SDCHM exhibit viewers can explore the intricate design, technology and art of Chinese writing in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries through:

  • A pair of rare Chinese and Japanese typewriters
  • A rare 1980’s era Chinese word processor/computer
  • A curated selection from the world’s largest collection of Chinese telegraph code books (from the 1910’s through the 1980’s)
  • A curated compilation of vivid historic photographs and ephemera from the world of Chinese and East Asian I.T.
  • History film footage and interactive computer displays

“As a central and cultural resource for those who want to experience Chinese culture, SDCHM is excited to show San Diegans and tourists alike the fascinating back story of these curious machines,” said SDCHM Executive Director Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres. “We’re thrilled to be the first museum to showcase this exceptional exhibit and continue to put San Diego on the map as a culturally vibrant and diverse city that embraces art, technology and its history.”


Established in 1996, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum (SDCHM) is one of few US institutions dedicated to sharing the Chinese American experience and to promoting Chinese art and culture. In 20 years as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, SDCHM has transformed a historic, abandoned building downtown in what was once San Diego’s Chinatown into a state-of-the-art multi-site museum that plays a critical role in the cultural life of the San Diego community. Over the past twenty years, SDCHM has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors, collected thousands of ethnographic artifacts, and hosted hundreds of educational programs and exhibitions. SDCHM’s mission is to educate and inspire by preserving and celebrating the richness of Chinese history, art, culture and the contributions of Chinese Americans. For more information about the museum, call 619388-9888 or visit