Manual typewriters are officially dead technology, with the last factory still churning them out closing its doors.
The first commercial typewriter was produced in 1870. Over the next 40 years the technology evolved into a standardized format which contained most of the basic elements typewriters featured for the next 60 years. Then electronic typewriters were introduced and quickly became standard. At least until computers became personal and wiped out typewriters in all but developing countries.
With that in mind it’s no surprise that the last company manufacturing manual typewriters was based in Mumbai, India. And also no surprise to learn that Godrej and Boyce, the company in question, has now given up the fight. And you can’t really blame them when you look at the figures.
Godrej and Boyce were doing brilliantly for many years after being founded in the 1950s. During the 1990s the company was selling 50,000 models each year. That had dropped to around 10,000 by the mid-2000s, and last year the company sold less than 1,000 typewriters. According to the company’s general manager Milind Dukle the only people now buying manual typewriters are “the defense agencies, courts and government offices.”
With manual typewriters no longer being produced, I think it’s fair to say we’re now a world where computers rule supreme. Even those who have held out (either for financial or nostalgia reasons) from making the move are now doing so. Or they’re keeping hold of their antiquated technology because it’s somehow more romantic. Is it? I couldn’t say.
One thing which has remained, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future, is the layout of the keyboard, with the QWERTY letter ordering being retained as we left typewriters behind and moved to personal computers. And manual typewriters, even those produced relatively recently, will surely become antiquities that are worth collecting. It surely beats stamps and coins.