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Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors 249

SEWilco pointed out that the last typewriter factory has shut its doors. Indian typewriter manufacturer Godrej and Boyce stopped production today after 60 years. The company's general manager, Milind Dukle, says, "We are not getting many orders now. From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us."
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Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:21PM (#35944736)

    Brother still makes and sells typewriters. This is just bad reporting by The Atlantic, which has REALLY gone down hill since it changed hands.

    I assume that this is the last *manual* typewriter factory.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:37PM (#35944962)

    I assume that this is the last *manual* typewriter factory.

    Gotta be. There's still a fairly significant (captive) market for typewriters in prisons that continues to be met:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site:walkenhorsts.com+typewriter [google.com]
    http://www.google.com/search?q=site:https://www.accesscatalog.com/+typewriter [google.com]

    (Though looks like they're mostly Swintec these days. E.g., http://www.swintec.com/clear-typewriters/21-2410cc-michigan.html [swintec.com])

    We used to have to have specific manual typewriters (no built-in memory or spell-check) for law school exams, though that pretty much died off when ExamSoft (http://www.examsoft.com/main/index.php [examsoft.com]) became commonplace. I can't even remember the last time I saw a typewriter being used, though there are still a few sprinkled around the office...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:38PM (#35944978)

    This made me reminisce about touch typing classes we took in high school in 1977. They were taught on manual typewriters that had several inches of key travel to them. It was damn hard to get up much speed, but I eventually managed 76 WPM for an extended period. Most of the class struggled to get into the 50's. (I can hit well over 100 on a modern PC keyboard - higher if I tolerate some mistakes). I don't know how long the things had been there, but they look ancient when I was there in the late 70's. I'm guessing they were from at least the 1950's.

    I'm always surprised when I watch most of the younger generation that grew up with computers trying to type on them. It's painful to watch. You'd figure that people who grew up with PCs as a part of their lives would be good at it, and a few certainly are, but more often than not they struggle, type very slowly, and can't type without looking at the keyboard the whole time! Then again, they also struggle to do what seems like basic operational tasks with the same computers. If the goal is to rename 200 files in the same way, I'll do it with a one line script in about 20 seconds, while most younger people I know will sit there for 45 minutes and do it by hand with a GUI file manager. I had once guessed that the generation growing up with personal computing would be proficient at using them, but in virtually every case, I'm the one that ends up helping them with anything that's nontrivial. Weird.

  • by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:41PM (#35945034) Homepage Journal

    "Moreover, WTF does this have to do with news for nerds"

    Interest in typewriters is pretty nerdy.

    But even nerdier, there are still people hacking typewriters into USB keyboards and such, or doing Arduino hacks, etc.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:50PM (#35945196)

    I tried to post a correction to the Seattle PI when they picked up this bullshit story, and they didn't publish it. Then Neatorama picked up the same bullshit story, but at least there I could leave a comment saying it was bullshit. (Actually, I just checked back-- looked like Neatorama pulled it. So there's one success story, I guess.)

    Is there anybody in news who fact-checks before republishing? This is just embarrassing, for the Atlantic, the Seattle PI, and every other paper that's copy-and-pasted this non-story.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @02:58PM (#35945306) Journal
    As others have pointed out, there are other companies still making and selling manual typewriters. But Godrej is probably the last major English manual typewriter maker. I have used this typewriter, and it is almost ubiquitous in India. Almost every village or a hamlet in India would have a "typewriting" institute. Tiny private trade schools. It was almost a rite of passage in South India to join one of these institutes and pass the "lower" (60 wpm) or the "higher" (90wpm) certificate examns. If you could get a higher certificate in typewriting or shorthand (90 wpm and 120 wpm respectively in shorthand) you are sure to find a job. One of the most surefire tickets out of poverty for the rural folks. I remember seeing a magazine story about a steno-typist who built a temple for Pitman, the originator of English shorthand long time ago.

    Now a days all these "typewriting institutes" are teaching Java/Oracle/Dcom/PeopleSoft/Ansys and all kinds of assorted often unrelated software packages.

  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @04:16PM (#35946390)

    To limit the ability of inmates to pass notes using the internal storage of electric typewriters, same reason tape recorders(but not players) are frequently prohibited.

    You only need one line to type "shiv jimmy in block 8", so I'm not sure why there is a specific limit instead of only permitting electric typewriters that clear on power down.

    For that matter, you could just look at the ribbon and see what the last guy typed.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @05:58PM (#35947370) Homepage

    Our high school typing classes in the 1960s used a set of records--78 RPM shellac records, of course--of rhythmic music. The rhythms were calibrated in words per minute--30 wpm, 35, wpm, 40 wpm, etc. The same piece of music was used for several increasing speeds, then as you got to some faster speed you were rewarded by getting to hear a different piece of music.

    The slowest ones used a piece of march music named "American Patrol," which is one of those pieces of music most people cannot name but recognize instantly when they hear it. YouTube has a recording [youtube.com], not the same recording (and incorrectly identified--it's by F. W. Meachum, not Sousa). The typing records were, of course, played with a very heavy, steady, square beat. To this day I can't hear this piece of music without thinking "F-R-F-space-J-U-J."

    Quite seriously, though, all touch-typing classes--not just in my high-school days, but in my mother's high school days--drilled into you the importance of maintaining an absolutely steady, even rhythm. You didn't slow down, even when stretching with the left pinky to hit the exclamation point, and you didn't speed up, even when you're typing T-H-E.

    I'm not sure how this particular bit of lore got lost. As nearly as I can tell, the generation that has learned to "key" on computer keyboards is not being taught to keep a steady rhythm. I don't know if the importance of the steady rhythm is real or just tradition or superstition; we were taught it and I believed it and still do.

    Incidentally, typing on a high-quality, properly maintained office manual typewriter had a distinctly sensuous pleasure to it. The inertia of the typebars and the force profile of the keyboard had apparently evolved to feel good. In my high school days they had a mix of manual and electric typewriters. I could type faster on the electrics, and of course they produced better-looking typing, but they weren't as pleasant to use. Cheap portables were, of course, no fun, but a good full-size office Royal or Remington... mmmmmmmm.

  • by Lunzo ( 1065904 ) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @09:09PM (#35948730)

    As one of the "younger generation", I echo the sentiment of this post. We didn't have touch typing classes in school. I guess it was expected that you'd pick it up yourself. As a result I learnt a really bad technique from my self-teaching. A large amount of mistakes and not really using all 5 fingers. Home position for my left hand was in line with WASD instead of lining up with the 2nd finger on F.

    I've since unlearned my bad habits and taught myself to type properly with "Typing of the Dead". It took a while and I'm probably not as fast as I was. On the plus side I'm a heap more accurate and speed will improve as muscle memory builds. I had hit the limit in speed/accuracy of what was possible with the poor technique, which is much lower than doing things correctly.

    We still teach years of handwriting at school. Even after that most people's handwriting is terrible. A year or two of typing seems equally important in the modern, computerised world.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"