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End of the line for mechanical typewriters

Pesky PCs put paid to print purists

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The death of the mechanical typewriter is upon us, after Godrej & Boyce recently confirmed that the firm's remaining inventory at its production plant in Shirwal, near Pune, had significantly dwindled to just 500 machines.

That company, which began production in the 1950s, had become the world's final old-school typewriter manufacturer.

But with demand being completely eradicated by computers, Godrej and Boyce called time on the humble machine in 2009 when it ceased making mechanical typewriters.

Now its inventory is reportedly down to just 500 typewriters, of which most are Arabic language models.

Up until recent years the typewriter had remained in demand in India, while in Western countries its usage had already become largely obsolete with the arrival of the personal computer.

"From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us," Godrej and Boyce's general manager Milind Dukle explained to Business Standard.

"Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year."

The first commercial typewriter was manufactured in the US in 1867, and its keyboard format paved the way for the 'QWERTY' layout found on today's computers.

According to Dukle, Godrej and Boyce's prime customers work in "the defence agencies, courts and government offices”, perhaps to prevent their employees wasting time on Facebook by forcing them to use a machine with one simple function - to typewrite.

Electronic typewriters, on the other hand, are still seemingly in plentiful supply. ®

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