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  • April 2011
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Last Typewriter Factory Closes: Ode to an Old Machine With a Lesson on Research

I’m the Digital Learning Librarian for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, so maybe you wouldn’t expect it, but I’ve always been fond of typewriters. I admit, it’s more aesthetic than functional–computers are faster and there’s always the “<–Backspace” key and spellchecker for mistakes–but, as a teenager, I still collected them.

That’s why I was quite sad this week to hear that the last remaining typewriter factory has closed! India’s Godrej and Boyce typewriter factory has been diligently churning out typewriters even though demand has dwindled:

“We are not getting many orders now,” Milind Dukle, Godrej and Boyce’s general manager, told the paper. “From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. ‘Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers. Now, our primary market is among the defence agencies, courts and government offices.” (“Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors”)

I saw it coming. So much so that, at first, I didn’t even think to double-check the source. 2011, with iPads taking over, made sense as the year typewriters would finally bite the dust. Good thing I checked to see what old reliable National Public Radio had to say about the story:

Well, we certainly should have known. The Daily Mail focused on the end of typewriter production by India’s Godrej and Boyce. But as this Two-Way post from July 2009 shows, New Jersey’s Swintec has been doing a very good business in typewriters for quite a few years now. Convicts and cops are among their best customers.

And you don’t have to look too far on the Web to find other typewriters, from companies such as Brother International.

Where the Daily Mail may be right, though we haven’t been able to confirm as of yet, is that Godrej and Boyce was producing manual typewriters… (“Has The Last Typewriter Factory Closed? Not Really”)

So, it’s manual typewriters then. Alas! The best ones! I still maintain that, in nature, there exist few sounds more comforting than the CLACK CLACK of a typebar striking a page. Something about analog mechanics just comforts me: typewriters, pneumatic tubes, Polaroid cameras, and record players; all of these lovely inventions marry form and function in a superb way.

London’s Daily Mail now has the proverbial egg on its face. That could have been helped by better research. I feel a shameless library plug coming on. If you need help with research or just want to peruse some very cool tools like our databases, language help, and  library subject guide, you can–online even! Discover more HERE.

Do you have a typewriter? Would you like the get one? Well, since they’re harder  and harder to buy new, you might want to check out the books the library has on typewriter maintenance and repair. Or, if I’ve piqued your interest, try these books on typewriter history. And if you’ve never seen Atonement (based on Ian McEwan’s novel) you should–it features some awesome typewriter-as-percussion in the soundtrack.

Of course, I’ve embraced smart phones, laptops, and iPods like everyone else, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the decorative heavy elegance of the manual typewriter. Adios, amigo–if you’re truly gone, you will be missed! I’ll see you in my dreams…and in my apartment, because I still have a few. : )

Corey, CLP-Main

One Response

  1. I think everyone has a subconscious desire to use a typewriter occasionally, though they aren’t all that practical now that everything’s online. Whenever you walk by one, you just have this… urge… to start tapping at it.

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