Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
mikelove

Old Online / PC Dictionaries

Recommended Posts

mikelove

I'm working on a short academic paper outlining the history of online- and app-based dictionaries (bit of a 'fox writing an authoritative history of the henhouse' situation, but they asked me and I agreed), and while I feel pretty confident in my knowledge of electronic dictionaries from the last decade or so, I'd like to make sure I don't leave out any important products from the pre-smartphone / early internet days.

 

So: can anybody suggest any important / interesting Chinese dictionary websites or PC apps (before ~2008 or so) that I ought to make sure I include?

 

Thanks,

  • Good question! 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Luxi

The one I remember from the "early" days (late 90s - early 2000s) is Mandarin Tools, it was the bees knees in its day. Surprisingly, it is still online:

http://mandarintools.com/

And I hope it stays online for a very long time.

 

Another relic from the past (which I still consult sometimes). I'm sure you're familiar with it

http://zhongwen.com/bushou.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

The granddaddy. First time I ever saw a pop-up dictionary in action, I think. That would have been... 2003?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
heifeng

I always used https://www.mdbg.net/chinese/dictionary  Ok, actually I still do at times if sitting in front of a PC. (otherwise I have PLECO:D )

 

Pre-smart phone days I use to carry around a mini electronic dictionary though...(went from black/grey and foldable, to fake palm pilot looking, to color touch screen) I have no idea what brands however. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

I can't remember how old zdic.com is. It might be old enough to fit your criteria. Same with nciku, can't remember the first time I heard of it.

 

I used Asian Suite by Union Way to write characters and it was a powerful program, I think it had a dictionary as a sort of by product. There was also Twin bridge but not sure if that qualifies.

Partly throwing out these old names in case it jogs anyone's memories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
roddy

KDic, which was a dictionary engine for Palm you could load Chinese dictionary files into...
HNHSoft - can't remember what they had, some kind of dictionary for Windows and PocketPC. Got emails from them back to 2005.

 

PS Churchill did say, after all, that history is written by the victors...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anonymoose
4 hours ago, Luxi said:

Another relic from the past (which I still consult sometimes). I'm sure you're familiar with it

http://zhongwen.com/bushou.htm

 

I second this. This was about the only resource online when I started learning Chinese. It is in traditional characters, but it had links to animated simplified characters showing stroke order. This was my main resource for learning how to hand write characters, and it was always a challenge, studying simplified, to search through the traditional characters to find out how to write the one I needed in simplified.

 

Pretty much obsolete nowadays, but it was an absolutely invaluable resource at the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Publius

Three PC dictionaries that I have used:

金山词霸 (Kingsoft PowerWord) -- You can't talk about pop-up dictionaries without talking about this one. It's the source of 'fuck goods' for 干货.

Babylon Dictionary -- Made in Isreal, this one was the de facto industry standard of the early 00s.

Lingoes or 灵格斯词霸 -- This one I still use. It's free and has a rich collection of dictionaries, many of which have piracy issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
corian

How broadly are we scoping this?

 

I've had to look up dates as memory is never reliable...

 

My first (non-Chinese) electronic dictionary was a Zaurus PI-5000 PDA I purchased specifically to do stylus-based Japanese lookup, in the mid-90s….but I remember a number of similar Chinese devices (InstaDicts, etc.) available at the same time, both keyboard and writing-based.  I also remember coming across a copy of Kingsoft PowerWord not too far beyond this point (Wikipedia claims it started in 1997).

 

I remember (unfortunately not by name) a Chinese Dictionary package for the PocketPC/iPAQ in the early 2000s.

 

Logovista has offered Chinese translatio/dictionary software (including a 「簡体字 中日・日中辞典」) at least as far back as 2003.

 

I can trace physical portable dictionaries (Canon Wordtanks, Casio EX-Words with Chinese dictionaries or similar Chinese models) at least as far back as 2003, but I seem to recall earlier models too..  Here's a run-down

https://web.archive.org/web/20041016005554/http://weblog.twelve-girls-band.info/2004/09/19e-dictionary.html

I distinctly remember many of the current "top features" already existing at the time—handwriting or keyboard input, voice recordings or synthesis of characters, book content.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mikelove

Thanks for all of this! (a lot of these are very familiar now that you're all mentioning them, it's been a long 19 years running Pleco...)

 

Anybody remember any early China-based websites? I don't really recall there being any when I first went to China in 1999; everybody had PowerWord (and that seemed like absolute magic at the time, plus Kingsoft had the brilliant idea of charging like 20 or 30 RMB for the thing so people would actually buy a legitimate version), and in any event CDs were cheap enough and internet data was expensive enough that I have a hard time imagining anybody would have used an online dictionary when an offline one was available. But I have to think that there were at least a few.

 

Regarding old electronic dictionaries, all my research so far suggests that the Sharp Zaurus does deserve credit as the very first electronic dictionary with touchscreen kanji/hanzi input; specifically the ZI-3000, which debuted in the fall of 1993. (it doesn't seem like the dedicated e-dictionary makers had that until several years later, though certainly by '99 you could go to a shop in Zhongguancun and find a bunch of them) Though if you're willing to count the 2.8-pound Sony PalmTop as an 'electronic dictionary', then the PTC-500 which debuted in 1990 would get that honor.

 

For general-purpose PDAs running Chinese dictionary software, in theory the Psion Series 5 had the hardware to accommodate a handwriting Chinese dictionary in 1997 but I don't believe that anybody ever actually made one. The Palm IIIx shipped in early 1999 and was the first Palm with what I'd view as enough memory (4 MB) to store a Chinese font + dictionary database + handwriting recognizer template file. (and as far as I know the first Palm dictionary viewer app with double-byte character support was Kdic, which Roddy mentions; that was what I used for early Pleco prototypes anyway)

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

Somewhere I still have my Instadict handheld portable Chinese-English dictionary. It had a touch screen with a pen and you could input characters, it would speak and it had a rudimentary flashcard section. It had quite a few options. Word meanings with or without sentences, pinyin and more. I had mine bought for me in HK and cost the best part of £150.00. It was a fantastic, futuristic device and for a few years it was the bees knees.

Then I bought a XDA Exec which was cutting edge and I discovered Pleco, haven't looked back. This was around 2005 so I am guessing the Instadict was pre 2000.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mungouk

I have nothing to add, except to say that this is a fascinating thread - look forward to reading the article @mikelove!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Agree.  Please post a link when done!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
agewisdom
On 1/31/2019 at 2:35 AM, mikelove said:

I'm working on a short academic paper outlining the history of online- and app-based dictionaries (bit of a 'fox writing an authoritative history of the henhouse' situation, but they asked me and I agreed), and while I feel pretty confident in my knowledge of electronic dictionaries from the last decade or so, I'd like to make sure I don't leave out any important products from the pre-smartphone / early internet days.

 

Would make for a fascinating read when completed. Hopefully there's room to look at it from a social/user perspective rather than purely on a technical and scientific aspect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
VocabSplitter

Why nobody mentions MDBG and NCIKU (becomes LINE dictionary now)?

 

I also used MDict before, which was a similar product as Stardict. But now it’s not so popular as before — a company developed an app called Eudic which has become a replacement of MDict.

 

By the way, I think the most popular electronic Chinese - French dictionary in China is frhelper(法语助手). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...