THE ORIGINS OF THAI TYPEWRITER
GREAT PRIDE THE WORLD MUST NOTE



The person who gave the idea of a Thai typewriter was Edwin Mcfarland who was in commission with the Ministry of Education then and then when H.R.H. Dumrongrajanupab became Ministry Edwin Mcfarland was appointed his private secretary. During that time Edwin Mcfarland foresaw the importance of typewriter to Siam. So he asked permission to leave for U.S.A. and made a survey of typewriter manufactures with the product which is likely suitable to fit in Thai characters for the reason that Thai language was comprised a large number of characters, besides there were also vowels and tonal marks as well. In conclusion, a Thai typewriter would need to contain two time larger number of keys than the English one. Finally he found out that the most likely suitable manufacturer was Smith Premier whose typewriter was likely to be suitable for adaptation to suit the purpose. At this point Edwin decided to apply to work as a staff in the typewriter manufacture of Smith Premier, Thai Character Molding department where he intimately helped with the invention, molding, and carving work of Thai characters to fit in with Smith Premier typewriter. Despite his best efforts to fit in all Thai characters to the keyboard yet he was unable to succeed because the keyboard was missing by two keys, Khor Khoat and Khoh Khon. Finally Edwin decided resolutely that it’s necessary that he seclude these two characters from the typewriter, very well aware both Khor Khoat and Khoh Koh were dead consonants or characters with repeated sound with other characters. There at last the first Thai typewriter in the world was invented under the name of Smith Premier without the keys for Khor Khoat and Khoh Khon on the keyboard. It could be said that Edwin Mcfarland was the first person to invent a Thai typewriter for practical application and he asked for a permission by the owner of Smith Premier Plant in U.S.A. to bring the first Thai typewriter back Siam to give it to King Rama V sometime in 1892. Upon his arrival in Siam this time Edwin Mcfarland had an audience with King Rama V immediately and gave the typewriter to the King as his tribute. It was noted that the king was very pleased so much that he wanted to type a letter himself using the first Smith Premier typewriter in Thailand. He used his finger to touch the key one by one and it was a surprise for those who chanced to see such a scene. He said thanks to Edwin Mcfarland for his loyalty to Siam and for the new development he brought for the country. For this reason it could be said that King Rama V was the first typist in Siam also. On this first typewriter he had his brief royal name inscribed onto the typewriter later. King Rama V knew it well that Thai typewriters would contribute greatly to the county in the future. He had ordered 17 Smith Premier typewriters for commission in Thailand for the first time in 1892 comprising of Models 3, 4, and 5. Most importantly, Smith Premier typewriters then was not capable of ten-finger continuous typing skill and the sequent placement of characters was not in the positions of For Hor Gor Dor Ah Sor Vor like the present time where the typist will need to touch on to the key one by one. Anyhow the period was considered one of the valuable historical record. Shortly after his arrival in Thailand Edwin Mcfarland returned to U.S.A. and passed away in 1895 there. After, Edwin Mcfarland’s death, his younger brother George B. Mcfarland took over the work of Thai typewriter development from his elder brother with his demonstration of the typewriter to the general public. The typewriter was shown at his first dental clinic in Siam where many people, civil servant and royal family members attended dental work. George B. Mcfarland took the liberty to introduce the typewriter and meanwhile tried the sampling typing with satisfactory result. Meanwhile the advertisement was publicized. Many public offices got in touch with him to order more typewriters. So he traveled to Smith Premier plant in U.S.A. again to order the manufacture of Thai typewriters. When his newly ordered typewriters arrived he opened a new store in 1898 at the building intersection corner between the road behind the Eastern Palace Road and New Road by the name of Smith Premier Store. Meanwhile another milestone took place in U.S.A., Smith Premier sold the patent right of the typewriter to Remington and because of the fact that Smith Premier fixed carriage typed typewriter was outdated Remington prohibited the manufacture of such a typewriter. In his 1915 diary, George B. Mcfarland wrote “It quite unfortunate for Siam because Smith Premier fit quite well with a language which is rich with consonants like Thai language”. In summary the typewriter invented by Edwin Mafarland under the brand of Smith Premier came to an end. Anyhow Remington built Thai typewriter of the type sliding, shifting carriage distribution instead. For example Remington Model 16 which can be seen from the picture. Nevertheless the old model of typewriter was more popular and familiar to the Thai people in that period, thus making the marketing of the sliding, shifting carriage typewriters somewhat difficult.



BIOGRAPHY AND THE ROLE OF THE MCFARLAND FAMILY IN SIAM

Sammuel Gamble Mcfarland was an American who first started his career as a teacher apprentice until 1849 when Sammuel went to West Alexander Academy and then in 1857 he had an opportunity to become part of the missionary team in the Church of Christ Center. Meanwhile he met another missionary by the name of Steven Matoon who told him that the number of missionary corps in Thailand was still quite a few compared with that in China and meanwhile encouraged Sammuel to change his mind from going to China to Siam instead. On 5 June 1860 Sammuel boarded Mory Ship to Singapore Port and then made a connection with a smaller boat to Bangkok where he and his wife, Jane Hay Mcfarland embarked the Siam soil first on 15 September 1860. After his arrival in Bangkok he concentrated on learning Siamese for total period of 16 months and since then had started promoting the Church of Christ in Siam where he settled down in Petchaburi Province. The Mcfarlands in Thailand had total 4 off-springs in Thailand consisted of William Hay, Edwin Hunter, George Bruckley, and the last one a daughter Marry Corwell. Early 1873 corresponding to King Rama V, Master Mcfarland took his family home to visit his native country of U.S.A. During that period Sammuel sent his first and second sons William and Edwin to take up university program in University of Washington and University of Jefferson of Pennsylvania accordingly. As for himself he returned to Siam to continue his work on Church of Christ. Around 1884 both William Mcfarland and Edwin Mcfarland completed their undergraduate education and returned to Siam to help with the father’s work. William Mcfarland, the eldest took a commission in Ministry of Defense while Edwin Mcfarland took a commission in Ministry of Education. Later when H.R.H. Damrongrajanupab took up the position of Minister Edwin Mcfarland was appointed his private secretary. Edwin Mcfarland saw the importance of typewriter so he coordinated with Smith Premier plant to invent the first Thai typewriter which pleased King Rama V greatly. During the last period of his life Edwin Mcfarland wished to learn medical education so he went to study medicinal pharmacy in the U.S.A. again but unfortunately he passed away in 1895 before he could graduate.




Source: Siam Friendship Magazine 22 June 1897, Volume 3, Page 468. and - History of typewriter by Vrin Sinsoongsood, Bangkok, Krung Siam Printing 1972 and - History of typewriter by Pailin Prasartkul, National Library Code ISBN 3111102523379



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