When Indian manufacturer Godrej and Boyce closed down its typewriter production a year ago, it was announced on the web by Yahoo! and other news agencies that the manual typewriter is now dead. (See last post). However it appears that Godrej and Boyce is getting more than its due share of publicity because a news report at cnet.com dated 22 Mar 12 stated that manual typewriters are available with the dealers Hammacher Schlemmer.
The machine available here is the Classic Manual Typewriter manufactured by Royal Consumer Information Products Inc. As the Hammacher Schlemmer page states: “Though supplanted by electronic word processors decades ago, the mechanical typewriter still has its devotees, … . This typewriter also proves invaluable for addressing envelopes, creating labels, or filling out forms – simple tasks that can be confounding with a computer printer.”
The manufacturer, Royal Consumer Information Products Inc. had its roots in the Royal Typewriter Company, founded in January 1904 by Edward B. Hess and Lewis C. Myers. Edward B. Hess, who died in January 1941, was a prolific inventor and held over 140 patents relating to the typewriter. The other founder, Lewis C. Myers, died in Freeport, New York at the age of 84. The sales of the company in North America totalled over $600 million in 1982.
In April 1986, Olivetti, the Italian typewriter/computer manufacturer, purchased Royal, which remained part of the Olivetti family for nearly two decades. It became a private American company again in September 2004 and is now known as Royal Consumer Products Inc. See the facebook page on Royal Consumer Products for further information.
As already mentioned here and in the Hammacher Schlemmer page, the manual typewriter is still useful for some specialised purposes. But there is another innovation in typewriter technology that deserves to be mentioned. This is the USB typewriter kit designed by Jack Zylkin in 2010.
This is an attachment to the manual typewriter that enables it to function as an input keyboard to a PC or other such device. Full information on the device is found at www.usbtypewriter.com. A report is given in IEEE Spectrum dated Mar 2011.
So far, the USB typewriter kit is of interest only to hobbyists, but there is a further possible addition which may increase its value considerably. As a fair amount of mechanical work is done while pounding the manual typewriter keyboard, the motion could be used to spin the electrical generator of an automatic quartz watch, which would then supply the power for the CPU of the PC or iPod. The saving of power makes this worth considering.