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R.I.P Typewriters – Paying Tributes to End of an Era !

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The death sentence is out officially! India has officially discontinued use of type writers in all its day to day operations!!! Type writer is no more!! Let’s pay our last tributes to this incredible machine.

For the generation who grew up on Imax Multiplexes, Mc Donald’s Burgers, Levis Jeans and the more recent advent of iPads (which has endangered the existence of desktops and laptops), the end of a Golden era of Type writer may look insignificant. But like every industrial item of its day, Typewriter has had its days of glory.

Typewriter

Typewriter – The Birth, Rise and Fall

1) The Birth

In olden days i.e. just around the days of independence, the employees called Muneems used to write with their hands all the official correspondence, be it in remote villages or most modern cities.

As with any manual tasks, the job used to be filled with errors, deletions, alterations and to put it in a single word ‘cumbersome’, to say the least. Even after bringing out the written paper, the writing style was horrible most of the times. It consumed more paper (for writing as well as replacing wrongly typed pages) and more time.

The type writer changed the whole scene dramatically. It took out the errors in typing, reduced the consumption of paper, and saved time – meaning more productivity.

2) The Rise

With the advent of Type writer came the more fashionable era of armies of typewriting employees. A new set of jobs were created. It was not a fast entry for the type writer. In earlier days the type writers were so expensive that only the best offices could afford them. Slowly, the imported expensive Remington was replaced with local ones with Godrej bringing out the first type writer domestically. Gradually, its use spread to every nook and corner of India.

The importance of Type writer to the Indian economy was evident from the fact that upon its release of the first Type writer, the then Prime Minister Mr. Nehru had congratulated Adi Godrej for taking India to the league of technologically advanced nations.

If you watch any Indian movie made around 1960s through late 1970s, every ideal rich educated Hero has an office with rows of typist girls (and an occasional male typist) who rise up when the boss enters the office and greet ‘Good morning, Sir!’. Sanjeev Kumar is a best example.

3) The Fall

We can not say as to when the fall of type writers started. Was it with the introduction of cyclostyle machines which can make more copies – around 20 compared to the maximum 4 copies of the carbon papered original? Or was it with the advent of electronic type writers – where you can have separate discs for different fonts, you can erase wrongly punched keys before actual typing?

More so, when Computers made entry, the writing was on the wall. However, the inevitable was delayed due to the same reasons which caused the slow spread of type writers in the first place. Like all inventions, computers were also very expensive initially so people stuck to the type writers. Slowly with prices of computers coming down, the relevance of Type writers got lost for ever.

Even the production of Type writers was stopped in India recently with the shut down of the last manufacturing plant of Godrej.

Though it was learnt that Government has stopped using type writers, the last few type writers are still in use in Government offices to test the speed of the Type writers (or present day data entry operators). Slowly, that too will be done on computers.

Though it was a very heavy, noisy, stressful machine for fingers, it served its cause during its life cycle all around the world. Let’s salute the Type Writer.

  1. Anurag says

    Try using your PC/Laptop/iPad/iPhone/Printer when you have suddenly run out of power or battery. Typewriters would be a god send equipment in such cases.

  2. sheetal says

    Thanks jagannath for sharing that.. really true utilization of typewriter…infact the typewriter which is shown in the post is quite modern one in which you can connect it via usb or some other port.. but the ones which are older ones say before year 2000 will surely be antique now..

  3. Jagannath A says
  4. Altaf Rahman says

    I think this is called evolution. Just like between Dinosaurus and humans, many species evolved, perished. Like our own invensions of Gram Phone records. Now I think no one uses Gram Phone records.
    I also have a Radio which has glass tubes inside it (may be the glass tubes inside the radio are called transisters). Like wise we will keep one type writer in house to show to our future generations.

  5. sheetal says

    It will be an antique piece sooner. The people having type writer will nicely polish and keep it in showcase to show it to their coming generation. The best part of it was the noise which it made during typing. I still use TVSE gold key board which gives me feeling as if i am using type writer. also the thing used to move it backword to start writing from next line was the best.

    1. Viral says

      Hello Sheetal,

      Nice point made. In fact, with being an antique piece, it may also fetch a premium packet (while on sale) for preserving such old machines. Just like an old currency note/coin or a rare old postal stamp or any such antique which fetches extra bucks due to their rarity of existence.

  6. sundararajan says

    Change is the spice of life. Unfortunately (?) typewriters fell as victims. Let us face it!!!

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  7. Viral says

    @ Vivek & @ Yash…

    Yes, those tats and trrrrrrs (the way Altaf puts those sounds as in the above comment) always used to be the attractive (or, say, distractive) point for those typewriters.

    I also remember my personal fascination for this unique machine when I had joined a typewriter class to improve and learn more about typewiter skiills. I could never reach those lightening typing speeds, that a professional typist would have done.

    @ Yash… You’re right, that legacy of QWERTY keypads originated from the typewriters, if I’m not wrong.

  8. Yash says

    Ah and don’t forget the old legacy of the type writer – the QWERTY Keyboard!

  9. Altaf Rahman says

    @ Viral,
    I would like to add few words in this regard.
    At the moment (atleast in construction business) It is not possible to work with out type writers. It may sound strange but true.
    When we fill tenders, there are many forms where client has standardized the matter and as bidders we are supposed to fill in the dotted lines. For example the priliminary company info. It has the A4 size paper divided vertically in half. It is some thing like this.
    1. Company name : ………………….
    2. Company address : …………………
    3. Telephone No. :………………..
    4. No of employees :…………………….
    4. Paid up capital : ………………
    The above is only an example. There are dozens of forms in a tender where we are supposed to enter the data in the given dotted lines. We can not fill the data by hand. We have to use type writers compulsorily.
    Every construction company has one type writer in their tendering dept. I strongly feel in finance also (to fill bank guarantee forms)
    The above typing work can not be done on computers (The clients give hardcopy forms to be filled. They wont give soft copies)
    I am not sure, may be in future we wil see operational reforms which eliminate the type writer.
    Till then I too enjoy the sounds of the type writer. Tat ta tat tat …………… tttrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (sliding of the unit. I dont know its name)

  10. Vivek Khandelwal says

    I loved the noise the keys made when pressed. As a child they always fascinated me. But I must say – a very interesting post.

    Cheers

    Vivek

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