Who digitilized Ethiopic?
Engineer Fesseha Atlaw is the pioneer who produced the first Ethiopian word-processor in DOS and who created the first Ethiopic writing software. His ground-breaking achievements have meant that Ethiopians anywhere in the world could continue to use their unique scripts beyond traditional ways and on computers and other digital gadgets.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa to have its own written language with its own unique scripts. Given the ever growing influence of computers on every aspects of human life, it was widely accepted that a language that cannot be computerized would die out. And in the absence of any government initiative, the task of saving Ethiopia’s unique cultural heritage and passing it on to future generations was left to individuals like Engineer Fesseha Atlaw who dare to think outside the square.
Engineer Fesseha changed the course of our language forever and the way we use it to communicate when he came up with the first Ethiopian word-processor in DOS called Dashen in 1985. He was the founder and president of Dashen Engineering – the first company that offered the first commercial Ethiopic software. The company was formed in 1982 in Santa Clara – California – and the first Ethiopian software product was available commercially in 1985.
Engineer Fesseha collaborated with Joe Baker of Xerox in the United States to draft the first Ethiopic ISO standard which has now become a UNICODE standard and they began lobbying for ‘ETHIOPIC’ to be included in the standard. This resulted in Amharic being used in Ethiopian websites and also more and more Ethiopians using their own language to send e-mail messages. He received a lifetime achievement award – pioneering Ethiopic computerization – by the Ethiopian Information Technology Professionals Association at Addis Ababa University.
Ethiopia is entering the new millennium knowing that not only its unique language will have just as much place in computing as any other western language, but also assured that its rich cultural and historical records will be preserved and told digitally in Ethiopic for generations to come. And this giant leap forward has been made possible by the pioneering works of Engineer Fesseha.
You can learn more about the history of Ethiopic Software and contact Fesseha Atlaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.ethiopicsoftware.org.