Sitting in my living room is an aqua Remington Streamliner, a boxy 1950s typewriter. It’s missing the right-hand Shift key and has an exclamation point but no number one. As of this week, it’s now part of an extinct breed.
Godrej and Boyce was the last operating typewriter factory, a small plant in Mumbai who saw its annual orders fall to as little as 800 in recent years. According to Milind Dukle, the company’s general manager:
“From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. ‘Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers. Now, our primary market is among the defence agencies, courts and government offices.”
I’d say it’s the end of an era, but that era ended with the advent of personal computing. Instead, let’s say we’ve snuffed out of the last fumes of nostalgia, the solidification of typewriters as strictly antiques. The people who care will preserve theirs, the people who don’t wont, and eventually the only typewriters left will recognised as they always should have been: works of art disguised as machines.