“মোদের গরব মোদের আশা আ-মরি বাংলা ভাষা।”
Bangla is our mother tongue. Bangla is our pride. Bangla is our achievement. Bangla is no longer confined within Bangladesh or West Bengal. Bangla is in everywhere. From the books, newspapers to the internet.
Use of Bangla in computers started in the 80′s. The honour of developing the first Bangla keyboard goes to Mr. Saif Shahid. He developed “ShahidLipi” the first Bangla keyboard layout for Macintosh computers. After that, many people developed Bangla keyboard. Amongst them Bijoy, Lekhoni, Proshika etc. are noteworthy. All of these were ASCII based keyboard.
Start of Unicode Bangla:
The Unicode era of Bangla mainly started when Microsoft provided complex script support in Windows XP SP 2. At first, Ekushey released some fixed keyboard layouts and some OpenType based Unicode Bangla fonts. Although Apple’s Macintosh platform supported Unicode prior to Windows, due to the lack of AAT based Unicode fonts, it was not possible to develop Bangla typing system. Although these fixed keyboard layouts brought Bangla to the Unicode age, but could not make it popular among general computer users. The main reason behind this is the steep learning curve.
Credit of popularising Bangla among general computer users goes to Mehdi Hasan Khan (MD). His Avro phonetic keyboard layout is the most popular input method of this age. Usage of Bangla dramatically increased after the release of Avro.
Bangla in Macintosh:
Apple Mac is the first ever platform to use Bangla. First ShahidLipi, then Bijoy, Lekhoni etc. ASCII based layouts were used in Macs during the 80′s. As the popularity of Windows based PC increased in the 90′s, no keyboard layout was developed for Macs during this time. At the beginning of the new millennium when Apple moved to NEXT STEP based Mac OS X, all old keyboard systems became unusable under the new OS.
In 2006 two AAT Bangla fonts (Rupali and SolaimanLipi) and two fixed keyboard layouts were released from Ekushey. Both fonts and keyboard layouts were made Macintosh compatible by Raiyan Kabir. With this release, the Unicode age of Bangla started in Macintosh platform. Till now these keyboards and fonts are the only softwares to use Unicode Bangla in Macs.
All Bengali users feel the lack of phonetic keyboard in Mac platform. But until now no one has managed to develop a phonetic typing system for Mac. Bangla-অঙ্কুর is the first attempt to phonetic typing in Macintosh platform.