Rumors of the Typewriter’s Death: Greatly Exggerated

By  |  Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

On yesterday night’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams reported the tragic news of the passing of a beloved international icon: the typewriter.

The factoid about the last typewriter factory closing struck me as surprising–even implausible. The typewriter may have been an endangered species for decades, but many, many businesses move really, really slowly. If there are still companies in America who use them–and I’ll bet even some big outfits have them on hand to address the occasional envelope–there are surely ones elsewhere in the world who aren’t ready to give them up.

So I went to OfficeDepot.com. It took only ten seconds to confirm that it will still cheerfully sell you a new Brother typewriter:

In fact, Brother still lists six typewriter models on its Web site.

So why was Brian Williams eulogizing the things? He credited the Atlantic for the scoop. And indeed, its site did report that Indian manufacturer Godrej and Boyce had shuttered its Mumbai factory. But the Atlantic’s post referenced a Daily Mail story. And now the Atlantic says that the Daily Mail was wrong–and quotes somebody from a company called Swintec that’s still doing booming business in typewriters. (Among its models: transparent ones for use in prisons, which don’t want jailed typists hiding anything in there.)

The new Atlantic story makes a reference to “mechanical” typewriters. Typewriters are by definition mechanical objects–even electric ones are electromechanical–but perhaps the Godrej and Boyce plant was the last one left that made manual models. Or maybe not–here’s a manual model you can still buy via Amazon.

This much I’m pretty sure about, though: there will still be people using typewriters long after all of us who are writing about this are gone.

 
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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Says:

    Typewriters and cockroaches will outlive us all.

  2. lothinator Says:

    People still use calligraphy and fountain pens. Doesn't mean that they're of any real importance is the functioning of society. As long as there are shacks in remote Minnesota, there will still be typewriters. Just… not that anyone will care.

  3. nehvada Says:

    i'd say that the news are referring to the old manual typewriter, which are no longer produced (see picture in screenshot). brother is producing electronic typewriters.

  4. Lizziegrindle Says:

    enry Ford is a funny example, because he was a great innovator with the Model T and the automated assembly line, but then he aged into the eccentric who indulged obsession, refusing to give up on the Model T while General Motors rose up and moved ahead http://bit.ly/lxS7aP

  5. Stilgar Says:

    I rescued an IBM Correcting Selectric II that was going to be thrown out at my last job. I spent just over a $100 getting it fixed. I could have gotten a working model for less on eBay, but to me throwing it out would have been like the destruction of a classic arcade machine or crushing a restorable car. I keep it on my desk at work, and it's fun to fire up for those few HR forms that haven't changed to PDF's or Word docs. It's probably kind of ironic because I'm a Software Engineer, but all the fresh out-of-college kids think it's pretty cool when I take the cover off and show them how it works.