Keng Vannsak was a Cambodian scholar, philosopher, and Khmer linguist. In 1952, he invented the Khmer typewriter keyboard.
He worked as a philosopher, historian, linguist, professor, playwright, novelist, poet, and, for a short while in the 1950s, politician. During his lifetime, he invented the first Khmer typewriter, headed a significant post-independence opposition party, and published many volumes of writings, including literary criticism, historical research, and linguistic treatises.
This typewriter’s commercial production started in 1955 in the West German Adler factories, while Remington in the United States of America was also manufacturing a machine of a similar design at the same time. Given that the typical typewriter only has 46 keys and 96 positions, laying out the more than 120 elements of Cambodian script and punctuation was a highly challenging operation.
Keng Vansak passed away on December 18, 2008, in a hospital in Paris from lung failure.
Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister expressed his regret on his passing, saying Cambodia has lost a well-known intellectual.