Technology Journalist and Copywriter

Kate O'Flaherty


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The last typewriter: A reflection of the tech world

By kateoflaherty, Nov 21 2012 05:01PM

The UK's last typewriter is a stark reminder of how quickly technology becomes obsolete, and how rapidly the market is moving.

The typewriter has had a good innings. After 130 years in the global mainstream, the machine is still going strong in the US, but its manufacture is no longer needed in the UK. In a world where the shelf life of a mobile phone is about a year, the typewriter's survival rate is pretty impressive - the first was manufactured in the US in 1830.

Unsurprisingly, the advent of the typewriter has led to further advancement in the technology sector. As well as providing women with solid (albeit dull) work at the start of last century, it inspired the design of the keyboard we use for our computers, mobiles and tablets. It contributed to our creative industries - journalists used them, writers, administrators. In my early 30s now, even I used one as a teenager. Computers were barely around when I started my first job.

The form factor and general usefulness of the typewriter aside, it's nice to be part of an industry that's always moving. From the humble typewriter through to powerful computers and smartphones we have today, to possibly the most significant - the advent of the internet - the tech world is advancing at an incredible pace.

Some observers even say the human race's technology advances outdo its biological findings and, despite the obvious credit due to scientists, I'd be inclined to agree. As someone I recently interviewed quite rightly pointed out, "we didn't fly to the moon by training birds".

And as the last typewriter sits in its new home at the Science Museum, you can't help but wonder which other technology will join it in the coming years. As the pace of the industry continues to accelerate, it can't be long before the iPhone is obsolete, too.

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