UK's 'last typewriter' produced

 

The BBC's Colin Paterson was there to witness the end of an era

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A typewriter, which its makers say is the last to be built in the UK, has been produced at a north Wales factory.

Manufacturer Brother, which says it has made 5.9 million typewriters since its factory in Wrexham opened in 1985, has donated the last machine to London's Science Museum.

The museum said the piece represented the end of a technology which had been "important to so many lives".

Edward Bryan, a worker at the factory since 1989, made the last typewriter.

"If people ever ask me, I can always say now, as a strange question, that I've made the last typewriter in the UK," he told BBC Breakfast's Colin Paterson.

He said he had previously "tried and succeeded to make one with my eyes closed".

'Special place'

Brother said it had stopped making typewriters in the UK because demand had fallen sharply in this country. It said that it still had significant sales in the US but its factory in the Far East produces enough typewriters to serve this market.

The company will continue to use the factory to run a recycling scheme for printer cartridges as well as to make other office technology.

UK boss Phil Jones said the typewriter still held "a special place in the hearts" of members of the public.

"Because of this, and the typewriter's importance in the history of business communication, we felt that giving it a home at the Science Museum would be a fitting tribute," he said.

A Remington typewriter from 1880 Typewriters were first mass produced by the Remington company in the 1870s

The Science Museum's assistant curator of technologies and engineering, Rachel Boon, said staff were excited to add the item "to our rich collection of typewriters" which numbers more than 200.

"This object represents the end of typewriter manufacture in the UK, a technology which has developed over the last 130 years and has been important to so many lives," she said.

"This model will enable us to tell the story of how technology has evolved in accordance with our communication needs."

The first known typewriter was invented in the US in 1830 by William Burt.

But typewriters did not become a commercial success until the 1870s when inventors Christopher Sholes - who also invented the Qwerty keyboard - and Carlos Glidden made a deal with the Remington company to mass produce their machines.

The typewriter is widely regarded as being instrumental in helping many women to enter paid work for the first time.

Typing classes became popular in the late 19th Century, and by 1901 there were 166,000 female clerks in Britain - up from 2,000 half a century before.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    I'm just amazed they were still being made at all! They have been obsolete for ten years or more.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    As a touch typist it's one of the skills which has been the most benefit to me, all this talk of voice input by computers seems to have gone by the wayside although within 10 years I suppose the technology will be ready. !!

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 29.

    27. David H Parry
    Sad but we also stopped making horse-drawn fire engines, steam agricultural traction engines, muskets and flint-tipped spears too... I think it's called 'progress'!
    ______
    Much as I'd like a typewriter, a traction engine might be more useful... (I'd best get off the internet and get some work done now.....:o(

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    As an inventor, the UK needs to find, invent or improve on products that;

    a) Have mass market appeal
    b) Can be mass produced enough to see economies of scale
    c) Can be produced using fully-automated production methods

    Producing things using human labour can be done cheaper in Asia so I never bother with ANY product that is going to need humans to make the parts or assemble it.

    Welcome to 2012!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    Sad but we also stopped making horse-drawn fire engines, steam agricultural traction engines, muskets and flint-tipped spears too... I think it's called 'progress'!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 26.

    13. LizP
    Do you think people will still learn touch typing now?
    ________
    They should; it would improve productivity and save a load of neck and posture problems later in life. I wish I could.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    we can add that to the last washing machine made in the uk also in north Wales

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    Well. I wOnt # miSs em!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 22.

    #13
    I too work in IT and am dismayed by how few can touch type. For anyone working in an office this is a skill that makes life SO much easier. Not to mention the benifits when at Uni. I am grateful it was taught in my school, and IMO should be taught in all schools, it's not difficult, I learnt at 10! 1 hour a day for a month is enough to teach it for life!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 21.

    In the early 1970s I was working as a journalist in East Sussex and managed to turn my car over. A large and heavy Remmington sitting on the back seat became airbourne and hit me in the back. Next day a headline in the Evening Argus read: 'Journalist hurt by own typewriter'. Is this a first?!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 20.

    Lizp
    I touch-type on my computer, much faster and easier on the joints. Computers have made it more practical for amateurs to produce their own CVs and so on, I remember doing them on a typewriter and it was horrible, one slip and you had to start all over again! I won't miss them but I'm sure people who used the professionally will be nostalgic.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 19.

    I learnt to type on an old Underwood with black/red ribbon and round keys. It was considered portable, even though it weighed a ton. I always wanted an electric typewriter (which is also the longest word that can be written using only letters on the 2nd row of a keyboard) with an interchangeable golf-ball, but then PCs & printers arrived and I had more fonts than I could ever have wished for.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 18.

    13.LizP
    ..... But time marches on, as it should, and I am pretty slow on my smartphone compared to my sons - even if they do not use all their fingers like I do!


    Liz , you use all fingers to type on a smartphone ? ... You must have the smallest fingers ever !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    So in a future edition of QI, Frydroid III will tell a tall tale about the origins of that strange word QWERTY, why we DIAL numbers to communicate and why they are KEYS and not BUTTONS. (And probably wondering why we didn't just talk or think at these pesky machines: Hello Computer!)

    BTW if you thought typewriters were odd you should have tried using a telex machine!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 16.

    It can't be long now until the last bottle of Tippex is produced. Like old fashioned cameras where film is no longer available, typewriter ribbons are as hard to find as video cassettes or audio cassettes. Amazingly though, sales of fountain pens are showing a marked increase.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 15.

    I am astonished to learn that typewriters are still being produced up to the present. I thought they stopped making them 10 years ago or more.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 14.

    I loved my old typewriter, Tippex came in handy. I thought I was clever to be able to type. Alot of people just use one finger on there computer, dib dib dob dob. Learing to write letters was great.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    Do you think people will still learn touch typing now? I was taught to type with the keys covered and even now, more than 40 years later, I work in IT and type twice as fast as anyone else without looking at the keyboard. But time marches on, as it should, and I am pretty slow on my smartphone compared to my sons - even if they do not use all their fingers like I do!

 

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