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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The last typewriter in the world

The last typewriter factory in the world has closed

If you still have an old typwriter, hang onto it.  It's not only a veteran of a bygone age, but it is about to become rare and valuable. A story in The Hindu by Shivani Jainridhima Shukla muses about the demise of the last typewriter factory -- which, believe it not, is/was in India -- and the effect it will have in his land.

Yes, Godrej and Boyce, the last company in the world still manufacturing typewriters, has ceased operations.  Clerks in New Delhi and Calcutta will still cart their old Remingtons (manufactured by Godrej and Boyce) from court house to office, saying they can't afford the electricity, so the clack of mechanical keys will still be heard there.  But will it be noticed in America, Europe, China and Japan?  Probably not.

Yet, the typewriter was a driving force in the liberation of Western women, as well as in the business world of India.  Up until the production of the first readily usable typewriter by firearms manufacturers E. Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York, in 1873, women were trapped in domestic jobs, working as cleaners, cooks, housemaids, and seamstresses.  Up until that year, all clerks were men, but somehow, miraculously, women made the typewriter their own, and made the downtown office female territory.

10 comments:

Dale said...

I've still got my Olivetti Lettera (1973).
But who will make ribbons for it?

Joan Druett said...

Do you remember the day when the only choice you had (apart from brand and portability) was elite or pica? I also remember those Starwriter-type machines that had a cartridge that always ran out at the worst moment -- and you had to buy a cartridge that was specific for the machine. I believe you can replenish a cloth ribbon by soaking it in some kind of ink -- though maybe it would be a very messy experiment.

Ridhima said...

Hi. This is Ridhima Shukla. I was just browsing through the net and came across your blog. Thanks for quoting my article of The Hindu in your blog. I am glad that you read it and provided your great insight. Typewriters indeed have become rare and valuable.

Joan Druett said...

Thank you for writing such an interesting article.

abhishek anand said...

Lovely, where did u compile from, anyway?

Joan Druett said...

I was reading the Hindu Times regularly as I wanted to know what was in that secret room at the National Library. Did they ever break through into it?

Anyway, that was how I found your story. Cheers, Joan

Anonymous said...

Hello. I have a Nazi Erika folding typewriter in primo condition. Has nazi symbol on cover and nazi symbols on the keys themself. Only needs a ribbon. How do I go about selling this? Don't want to put it on Ebay. Any suggestions?

Joan Druett said...

Good lord. Do you have a picture of it??

Teresa Peneguy said...

Ms. Druett,

Where did you get the wonderful photo of the Victorian woman at the typewriter? I would like to obtain the image, larger if possible. PS. I have a 1908 Oliver, and if the ribbon weren't dry it would still work.

Teresa Peneguy, freelance writer
tbp.words@com

Joan Druett said...

Hi Teresa, I don't know where the image came from originally, but I found it in a blog:

http://thetialys.wordpress.com/tag/housework/

-- which appears to be all about how to avoid housework! She also says that women who write something meaningful every day keep slimmer than women who don't, which is a very good reason for keeping a blog.

Perhaps she would be able to tell you? It's quite high resolution, and is in the public domain, so i see no reason why you shouldn't be able to use it. Kia ora from New Zealand, and thanks for reading my blog.