Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Typewriter Is Dead, Long Live The Typewriter

Typewriters are in the news again, this time in a well-circulated piece about the last manual typewriter factory in India nearing the end of their stock of "new" machines. My feed reader first sniffed it out on the Daily Express web site, but I'm not sure if this is the origin of the story, and it most certainly won't be the last incarnation of this tale. Like a game of "telephone," it seems to be picking up variations with each retelling.

I think it's no surprise to anyone here that manual typewriters aren't being made in the numbers they once were, and those that are made today are typically poor shadows of the quality of their forebears. I think one of the reasons this story has such motive power around the 'nets is that everyone is surprised they're being made at all in any form. They are, of course, for although it may be a sign of Ye Olde Times Gone By, and The Way Things Used To Be But Aren't Any More Thank God, the lowly typewriter still exists in countless offices and businesses, doing what it does best: put words on a page, fill out a label, or complete a form.

The backlash stories are starting now, fueled by manufacturers like Swintec who want to assure the world that they're feeling fine, thank you, and not gone yet. My own inbox has been collecting links from well-meaning friends and family who know about my little, ahem, typewriter problem. It doesn't bother me, though, inaccurate as the piece ultimately is. I know that typewriters as we're using them are a dead technology, and I know that we're keeping them alive at the same time.

Keep blogging, everybody. Keep holding those type-ins and scouring those flea markets and sending letters and winning converts. The technology may be dead, but the community is just getting started.

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