More than 140 years after the first typewriter was sold commercially in Europe, the epitaph for the writing machine is finally being digitally recorded on millions of PCs across the world.
|Godrej typewriters then (above) and now (below)|
The Mumbai headquartered firm, which is the holding company for the Godrej group – and manufactures appliances, furniture, locks, storage solutions and is also into electronics and materials handling – stopped production of typewriters in 2009. It was the sole company in the world to churn out typewriters.
According to Milind Dukle, general manager, operations, Godrej & Boyce, the last 500 of its Godrej Primas are being sold at a maximum retail price of Rs.12,000. The company used to manufacture typewriters at its plant at Shirwal near Pune, where it is now producing refrigerators and is also putting up a new furniture-making plant.
When Godrej began manufacturing typewriters in 1955, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru complimented Adi Godrej for putting India in the league of technically-advanced nations. He described the Godrej typewriter as a symbol of independent and industrialised India.
Besides Godrej, other imported brands were also popular in India viz. Remington Rand, Olivetti, Smith-Corona and Olympia.
But when portable and electric typewriters were introduced globally, India lagged behind. The costs of such typewriters were prohibitive and foreign exchange restrictions saw very few such machines in the country.
While globally, the decline of typewriters began in the 1990s, when PCs became popular and their prices dropped sharply, in India the decade saw a virtual boom in demand. Godrej itself was manufacturing about 50,000 typewriters annually, accounting for a third of typewriter production in the country. It also exported its machines to parts of South East Asia, South Asia and Africa.
But Dukle of Godrej & Boyce says the following decade saw a fall in demand and all the other manufacturers stopped production. Godrej was the only manufacturer of typewriters, churning out about 10,000 machines a year. However, in 2009, when it decided to stop producing typewriters, it sold less than 800 machines.