Product Description

 First Khmer keyboards in the wake of Independence

The keyboard layout of the Cambodian-Keyboard Typewriter was produced by Adler around 1955.

Khmer nationalist Ieu Koeus designed a prototype typewriter keyboard for the Khmer script and published the two, volume Pheasa Khmer book on the Cambodian language in 1947.1 While it has been interpreted as symbolic of postcolonial nationalismigned to " status ... at the level of both language and print",2 adapting the typewriter was also a powerful way to a affirm Khmer culture as a weapon for independence rather than the machine guns which were being used by the Issarak.

Soon after, Keng Vannsak was the inventor of a commercial Khmer-script keyboard for typewriters and later computers in 1952.3

Industrial production of this typewriter began in 1955 in the Adler factories of West Germany, while another similar machine was produced at the same time by Remington in the United States of America. The layout for the more than 120 elements of Cambodian script and punctuation marks was a very difficult task because of the limitation to 46 keys and 96 positions of the standard typewriter.4

Backlog of the Khmer keyboards after the Cambodian Civil War

In the 1980s, computer scientists and linguists outside of Cambodia began working on a new input system for the Khmer language, using the Qwerty keyboard, which was taken advantage of for the comparable phonetic frequencies between Khmer and English.5

Difficulties had to be overcome, especially the feet used for counsouns and phonetic clusters in Khmer script. While the related Thai script writes these clusters in line, the Khmer writing system puts a second member of a consonant cluster and the initial consonant adding extra difficulty for coding.6

After the fall of communism, very few of the data entry clerks had ever typed in Khmer before. A specially designed UNTAC Khmer keyboard was designed but remains used by very few only.7

Genesis of the Khmer Unicode

Layout of a Khmer keyboard known as "win", one of the many legacy keyboards in circulation before 2010.

In 1997, Michael Everson wrote a first proposal for encoding the Khmer script in ISO 10646.8 In the process, it appears that tensions arose as to the proper share of responsibilities between national and international parties, the Cambodian government wanting to take international ownership of all aspects of Khmer in Unicode.9

In 2000, an official Committee for the Standardization of Khmer Characters for Computers was set up by the Cambodian government along with the National ICT Development Authority (NiDA) and the Government Administrative Information System (GAIS).10 A Khmer keyboard was finally developed mainly due to the demand from printing "Unfortunately, working with Khmer Unicode fonts is still houses for experienced technicians."11 Before mentioning technical difficulties, the Cambodian official objection expressed its frustration in front of a development process which was mostly foreign whereas the Cambodian keyboard since its inception had been a nevralgic point of Khmer patriotic identity:

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