Ever hear of a typewriter?
Ask your grandfather. He might be able to tell you about this wonderful piece of antiquity.
In case he’s not around, here’s Wikipedia’s definition: ”A mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper.”
Or if you’re in London, head to the Science Museum. That’s because Britain has just made its last ever typewriter (at least until someone decides to revive the thing) and the manufacturer, Brother, is donating it to the museum.
Brother’s plant in Wrexham, Wales has made 5.8 million of them over the years, but lately it has only produced 30 a day, according to a BBC newsreel style video. That’s been enough to meet the demand of a small market of lawyers in the U.S. who like multiple copies of documents, but it hasn’t sustained the bottom line.
The typewriter had its long, extended day ever since its invention in England in the early 1700s. It did not immediately catch on, but it would eventually emerge as a legendary staple of modern life, business and communications.
If you watch the jolly BBC clip, you’ll see that typewriting even used to be a competitive sport, as world class typists would assemble to try to out clickety-clack each other. “The kings and queens of the keyboard are knocking the stuffing out of international typewriters,” enthuses the perky play-by-play announcer describing the black-and-white action.
But as it did to one of journalism’s most famous pounders of the device - Citizen Kane - death has come to the typewriter. At least it has in Britain, where, for now, that’s all she wrote.
Photos: Screen grabs from BBC video.