Don’t touch my typewriter!

Production of typewriters in India has ceased, but not the country's reverence for them

As one of the world’s most advanced economies, India has an IT industry employing millions. But while the subcontinent has gone high tech, its labyrinthine and paper-centric bureaucracy has made the typewriter de rigueur among the country’s clerical workers. It is also a necessity for people who cannot afford a laptop or who live in regions without power. There is also a kind of national reverence for the typewriter, according to the Los Angeles Times, which originated in the 1950s when then-prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru called it a symbol of modernity and independence.

But as younger generations are predominantly using computers, a dying market and the impact of the global financial crisis have taken their toll on typewriter production. Mumbai-based Godrej and Boyce, the last company in the world making new machines, announced in 2010 they were down to their last 200 models and would no longer be manufacturing them. Nevertheless, India’s typewriter enthusiasts hope that with enough repair know-how and hardware, the carbon ribbons will keep flying and carriages will continue to ring across the page. “The computer is lifeless, but there’s a sheer joy in manual typing,” says Mumbai’s Abishek Jain, who set a world typing record in 1993. “It’s a kind of music.”

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