In i-Pad era, typewriters still go clickety clack (With Images)

June 30th, 2010 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jutika Chetia
New Delhi, June 30 (IANS) Ravi Robinson has been in love with his rusty but dependable typewriter for 40 long years and the bonds still go strong. In the era of the futuristic i-Pad and compact and high-speed laptop computers, Robinson has no intention of letting go the rickety machine that is his sole source of income.

He is not the only one.

The clickety-clack of typewriters still rings the air at the old court complex, abutting the Parliament Street police station, where middle-aged typists sit under open tin sheds filing up legal documents and affidavits.

Though the government has done away with tests for clerks and stenos on typewriters, these 60-70 typists are among the last bastions for the mechanical device invented in the 19th century that had to finally give way to the computer.

Roibinson explains his marriage to the typewriter.

‘I have been working here for the last 40 years. Typewriters still have their advantages as they do not require any electricity, are portable and easy to access,’ Robinson told IANS.

He is confident that computers and laptops can never totally replace the typewriter.

Seated a few tables away, Joginder Sharma echoed the sentiment. ‘All legal documents and certificates are typed. Anyway, I do this job to earn for my family,’ said Sharma, a veteran of 22 years at the complex.

Both Robinson and Sharma feel that computer work needs basic knowledge, which may be beyond their capacity to learn at this stage.

But they frankly admit that they are emotionally attached to the machine.

Yet, despite such loyal users, the typewriters are inching towards extinction as various hi-tech gadgets and electronic equipment flood the market every day.

Until about three decades ago, typewriters were omnipresent — in millions. Twenty years ago, India produced about 150,000 typewriters annually. Now, there is not a single manufacturer.

Despite the crunch, there are many still dependent on typewriters — either for work or simply for the emotional quotient of the old machine.

Indeed, dealers and retailers repair and reconstruct old, dilapidated typewriters.

‘Five years ago, typewriters accounted for 10 percent of my total sales. Now they only account for about 2-5 percent,’ Sunil K. Chawla of Chawla Enterprises, which sells typewriters and other electronic equipment, told IANS.

He said there were many loyal buyers for second-hand typewriters.

Rajesh Palta, owner of Universal typewriters in central Delhi, said: ‘Our business of selling second-hand typewriters is doing very well. We have customers who want them repaired because they have a certain emotional attachment to them. In fact people from the American and Japanese embassies have bought typewriters from us.’

The demand for typewriters mostly comes from courts, the army as well as paramilitary forces, according to the dealers.

One said that customers go for exchange offers, buying new typewriters over computers because they find them easier to work with.

‘The older generation finds it comfortable to work on typewriters.’

Anil Sharma, 60, a retired defence ministry official, has preserved his old but well kept typewriter in his work room.

‘It has a very special place in my life since it has been my faithful partner. It is in my houses so that I can see it each day,’ Sharma told IANS.

(Jutika Chetia can be contacted at jutikachetia@yahoo.com)

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