This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Last updated at 16:36 BST, Friday, 06 May 2011

Goodbye to typewriters

Summary

2 May 2011

The typewriter, rather than the computer, was responsible for creating the modern office. But now, the only company in the world that still makes and sells them says there are just 500 left, and no more are to be made.

Reporter:
Mark Gregory

Typewriter

Computers have largely replaced typewriters today

Listen

Click to hear the report:

Report

India is well known for its legions of computer programmers, but the country also has another face as the last bastion of the typewriter. Manual typewriters stayed popular in India long after developed nations had entirely switched to the keyboard and mouse.

As recently as the 1990s, the Mumbai plant of a company named Godrej and Boyce was turning out 50,000 typewriters a year. They were popular in a nation where reliable electricity supplies - essential for computers - are still by no means guaranteed.

But even in India, typewriter sales have slumped in the last ten years. Gradually, every manufacturer stopped making them, leaving only Godrej's Mumbai plant - and that switched to making fridges two years ago. And now the firm says it only has 500 typewriters left in stock.

It's a far cry from the heyday of the 1950s, when India's then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru held up the humble typewriter as a symbol of the nation's independence and industrialisation.

The first commercial typewriters were produced in the United States in the 1860s. The typewriter was the dominant office technology for more than a century until the computer came along.

Mark Gregory, BBC News

Listen

Click to hear the vocabulary:

Vocabulary

legions of

large numbers of

another face

a different side or aspect to

the last bastion

the final supporter, the last safe place

manual

here, non electric

turning out

producing, making, manufacturing

slumped

fallen severely, become very low in numbers

in stock

available for sale

a far cry from

extremely different to

the heyday of

the most popular and successful time of

humble

modest, lowly, meek

Latest reports