April 26, 2011

End of an Era

In an age when some bloggers use Moveable Type software to create their content, the last of the personal moveable type machines has been made. Typewriters are no longer manufactured anywhere on Earth. From Business Insider:

We stopped production in 2009 and were the last company in the world to manufacture office typewriters. Currently, the company has only 500 machines left.

As a budding geek in the early seventies, I recall digging out our family's Olivetti portable typewriter and type-type-typing my way through page after page. I wasn't creating anything useful, I just liked banging away on the keys. I think I transcribed most of a user guide for FAA radar displays over a period of months. (I later wound up using those very displays in my career.) The move to a personal computer was a natural one for me in the early eighties. Maybe I was just used to playing with a keyboard.

The typewriter remains a bit of a wonder. It possesses the creative work and engineering that went into Gutenberg's press, reduced to a few pounds of metal and plastic. With it you could create a letter, apply for a job or write the next great novel. I had my first glimpse of one in action seeing my dad fill out forms, applying for a job opening.

Times change and the utility of a personal computer, which itself serves so many more purposes, combined with a bit of software have finally killed the old technology.

Somehow, though, I can't see Hemingway banging out a tale on a MacBook.

update: apparently a few smaller producers remain in southeast Asia.