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Machine translation in 1968

The BBC recently published this excerpt from a 1968 edition of Tomorrow’s World featuring a computer system at Kyoto University that was not only able to translate simple sentences from Japanese to English, but could also read out the resulting Japanese text.

It looks like the translation it performed was as follows:

Input:
MY NAME IS JOHN PARRY, AND I WORK IN LONDON ENGLAND.
I HAVE COME TO KYOTO UNIVERSITY TO LOOK AT THE DIGITAL COMPUTER.

Output (Romaji):
WATASINO NAMAEWA JOHN PARRY DE ARU, SOSITE WATASHIWA
LONDON ENGLAND NONAKANI HATARAKU. WATASHIWA
DEJITARU KONPYUUTAAWO MIRUTAMENI KYOTO DAIGAKUE
KIMASITA.

Output (Kana):
ワタシノナマエハ JOHN PARRY デアル、ソシテワタシワ
LONDON ENGLAND ノナカニハタラク。ワタシハデジタル
コンピューターヲミルタメニ KYOTO ダイガクヘキマシタ。

Apart from the use of dictionary-form verbs instead of the more polite “desu/masu” forms that one would expect from a human translator, the results aren’t bad at all. Very impressive for a computer that probably had less processing capability than a modern washing machine.

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