World's last typewriter plant stops production

The owners of the world's last remaining mechanical typewriter factory shuts the plant's doors because of declining orders.

The owners of the world's last remaining mechanical typewriter factory have shut the plant's doors because of declining orders.

Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd. has shuttered its facility in Mumbai, India, where as recently as 2009 the company was making 12,000 mechanical typewriters a year. 

Mechanical typewriters are prized in India for their ease, efficiency and durability. As many as 400 million Indians lack reliable electricity, so the devices were widely used in the courts and government bureaucracy.

Western consumers are likely more familiar with names like Woodstock, Olympia,  Remington, Smith-Corona, Olivetti, Hermes and Underwood, but Godrej & Boyce was a major player in the Indian market. In the 1990s, the company made 50,000 machines a year, out of a total Indian output of 150,000 annually.

But after stopping production, Godrej & Boyce has only about 500 of its Prima brand units left in its inventory, general manager Milind Dukle told India's Business Standard newspaper.

"We are not getting many orders now," he said. "This might be the last chance for typewriter lovers."

Several of the company's plants have been converted to other manufacturing. The plant location in Shirwal now makes refrigerators. The Mumbai plant will likely undergo a similar conversion, but an archive of the plant's typewriter history will remain.

The first commercial mechanical typewriter was produced in the U.S. in 1867. The devices pioneered the QWERTY keyboard layout that is now ubiquitous on personal computers and smartphones.


  • A previous version of this story did not clearly state that Godrej & Boyce appears to be the world's last maker of mechanical typewriters, which operate soley on human power. Numerous other manufacturers continue to make several types of electric typewriters.
    Oct 12, 2013 11:40 PM ET