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Tuesday April 26, 2011 1:12 pm

The typewriter is dead as the last factory closes its doors (Updated)

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Misc. Tech

typewriter factory closes

Update: Contrary to the original reports, it seems there are still typewriters being made in China, Japan, and Indonesia. So rather than being the death of the typewriter, this is just another nail in the coffin.

You might want to be sitting down for this. It's time to say your goodbyes, because the world's last remaining typewriter factory, Godrej & Boyce in Mumbai, India, is closing its doors.

Although typewriters have long been obsolete in the West, they remained popular in India for a long time. However, Godrej & Boyce stopped production in 2009, and now its inventory has dwindled to just 500 machines, most of which are Arabic-language models, and no more will be made. It's a different tune than the company was singing back in the '90s, when it produced 50,000 typewriters a year, a third of India's total output of 150,000 units, India's Business Standard reports.

"From the early 2000s onward, computers started dominating," Godrej & Boyce's general manager of operations Milind Dukle told the Business Standard. "All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. [Until] 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year."

When Godrej & Boyce opened in the 1950s, the Business Standard says the typewriter was a "symbol of independent and industrialized India." More than half a century later, one of the company's plants in Shirwal that closed in 2009 was morphed into a refrigerator factory.

The first typewriter, a cylindrical machine known as a "writing ball," went into production in Europe in 1870. Remington started manufacturing typewriters in the U.S. three years later with the same QWERTY keyboard still used on keyboards. Until the early 1900s, typewriters came in many different designs, but in 1910, they were standardized to include features like a typebar, a shift key, and symbols like the ampersand and percent sign.

While it might have been a long time since you've used a typewriter, if you've ever used one at all, its design and evolution have obvioulsy had tremendous influence over modern keyboards and Word processors. The Caps Lock key is perhaps the most notrious example of typewriter design being built into computer keyboards, although Google's Cr-48 Chrome notebooks could be the first move toward phasing it out.

This article, written by Leslie Horn, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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