A Royal Salute

It’s a -30- for the typewriter industry.  The last typewriter company, Godrej and Boyce, has closed its plant in Mumbai, India.

I think the occasion is more nostalgic than sad, especially for those of us who pound the keys for a living. 

Most of us of a certain age remember our first typewriter (a black Royal Aristocrat portable), and our first “pro” typewriter (a black Royal desk model at WPOP radio.  That typewriter had a rounded hood that had just enough “give” so I could smash my head against it when I got frustrated, and not hurt myself too badly.) 

It was only fitting that I began my career on a Royal in Hartford, because Royal and Hartford were synonymous for a long time.  My mother-in-law worked at “The Royal,” as did hundreds of others.  And with Underwood typewriters also made in Hartford, the city could lay claim to being the “Typewriter Capital of the World.”

Those days are long gone.  And soon the typewriter will be too.  (Really, how did we ever get by without a “delete” key ot the ability to “cut and paste?”)

We have two Smith-Corona portables in our basement.  My wife’s is an electric.  It’s been years since we’ve even opened the cases, and I suppose it’s time to get rid of them. 

It would be so much harder if they were Royals.

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About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in Digital World, Living in the Past, News, Noticed and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Royal Salute

  1. pete says:

    “That typewriter had a rounded hood that had just enough “give” so I could smash my head against it when I got frustrated, and not hurt myself too badly.”

    one of the features that made it the “professional” version…

  2. James says:

    I certainly won’t miss the horrible smell of White Out! But I have to admit that Spellchecker has made me lax in proofreading. OTOH, while I may not use the ‘right’ word, they’re always spelled correctly.
    The one typewriter that I kept for nostalga purposes is an IBM Selectric in scarlet red with a good-sized collection of print balls in various fonts. About once a year I power it up, and it still works. If nothing else it gives my grandkids a laugh every time they see it.

  3. I was just reading this article in the NY Times about the resurgence of typewriters in some circles, particularly among people who grew up using only computers…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/fashion/31Typewriter.html?_r=2&src=dayp

    I know I will never have fingers as strong as I had back in the day when you literally had to pound the keys, but it’s true, I don’t miss White Out, erasing pencils with the little brush on the end or that nasty correction tape…or ribbons and eech, carbon paper.

  4. Karen says:

    I also have an old manual one collecting dust in the basement. Maybe we can sell our typewriters to Tom Hanks. He collects them. Check out his FB page, I think it has photos of some of his collection.

  5. Mary says:

    And so the cycle of life continues………………..

  6. NancyB says:

    I loved typing on typewriters! I taught myself how to type on a portable machine then progressed to a regular size. I loved taking typing tests in school to see how fast I could type. But there was nothing worse than pulling a letter out of the machine and finding a mistake – I got very good at slipping it back in and getting it exactly to where it needed to go…..good times!

  7. Graham says:

    In order to graduate from my high school, Everyone had to pass a typing course which required that you attain a speed of 40 wpm. I think we started in sophomore year and for some of us it took right up to graduation……but it was the best thing they could have done for us. I sure wish Mrs. Donner was alive to thank her.

  8. Kevin says:

    hold onto your typewriters, it wouldnt suprise me in 7 years, hipsters will be collecting these things to help label their vinyl collection.

  9. Gene Sheehan says:

    100 years ago my grandfather provided for his family in the typewriter business — despite all our technological advances it’s strange to me that I’m telling you this by pounding on a keyboard.

  10. Don’t get rid of those typewriters, Gerry. Some things must be held on to for sentimental reasons. I still have my Tandy, the first “laptop”, issued to me from CBS News in 1988. We called it the “Trash 80”. It showed 4 lines of text at a time and we carried a small printer with an 18 pin cable, the width of a belt, to connect the computer to the printer.
    Stories were printed out on thermal paper like a cash register receipt. Not too long ago I found some of my old stories, but there was nothing on the paper as the print fades over time. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

    • Gerry says:

      I’ll probably keep one. Still wish I had that Royal, though.
      When we moved a few years ago, I trashed a lot of scripts, but I did save some from WPOP. And those “typewriter scripts” are good as new. I’d say the paper has yellowed, but we used yellow paper.
      Always nice to hear from the one and only Christine Negroni, who was a principal in one of the great TV news bloopers of all time.

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