Thursday, July 28, 2011

R.I.P., Typewriter

From the Atlantic Magazine comes this sad bit of news that the typewriter will no longer be produced, with the recent shutdown of the last typewriter factory in the world - in India.

A company called Godrej and Boyce sold 50,000 typewriters a year until the early 1990's. Up until 2009, it still produced up to 12,000 units, serving courts, the military, and other government offices. That inventory went down to 200 before the shutdown, the lowest point for a company that had been around for 6 decades.

Goodbye, Typewriter. While pressing the backspace key several times to type Joyce Kilmer's poem Trees into the shape of a Christmas tree (see related post here) is an utterly useless skill nowadays, I still appreciate the things I learned from my old manual ribbon typewriter: (1) You taught me that something so small, like my pinky, can gain strength - with exercise. (2) You taught me that mistakes leave scars with the occasional whiter speck on my paper where the liquid paper blots were. (3) When I typed too fast and pressed several keys simultaneously and the typebars got tangled, you taught me that if we don't take turns, nobody gets a good turn and nothing gets done. (4) You taught me about the importance of personal space which your carriage return so demandingly required. And finally, (5) you taught me that I CAN fix things myself - by pushing down the typebars that get entangled with impatient typing, or by reinserting the ribbon on its hook when suddenly my paper turns blank despite my perfect typing strokes. In fact, all the fix-it learning I got from other things was to depend on a bang here or there. You, dear typewriter, taught me that I can understand how something like you works, making it easy for me to fix you.

You taught me several life lessons and it's sad that you are now officially endangered species. Makes me look forward to catching a glimpse of you at my next government office visit. Rest in peace, dear old Typewriter.

Photo from Kate Spade.

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