The last ever typewriter made in Britain has rolled off the production line and been donated to London’s Science Museum. The Brother CM1000 electronic typewriter is the last of nearly 6 million typewriters made at Brother’s Ruabon, Wrexham factory. Only two people worked on this last machine, though 20 years ago about 30 people worked on the production line. The company will continue to make typewriters in Malaysia.
Edward Bryan, who has worked at the Brother factory since 1989 made the last UK produced Brother CM1000. He was a highly experienced assembler and could put together a machine in about 18 minutes. Once he made a machine with his eyes closed in 40 minutes!
Brother decided to close down the factory about 6 months ago. Phil Jones, Brother's UK head said “Clearly, typewriters have been undergoing a decline in many years. There's always a point where it's not economically viable any more, and we always knew that time was coming”. The Wrexham factory was making between 300 and 500 units per month. Now the facility will be used for assembling other office technology products and for printer cartridge recycling.
Who buys typewriters now? Mr Jones says there are some older people not comfortable with computers, also typewriters can be used by prisoners where other tech products are forbidden. Finally he humorously speculates that top secret memos are still written in government bunkers using typewriters.
The first typewriter was patented in 1714 but the first commercially successful machine was the Sholes and Glidden typewriter, which gave us the word “typewriter”, produced in the 1870s. Remington produced this design and in tweaking its usability introduced the QWERTY keyboard layout.