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Gone are the days of typewriters

Arifur Rahman Rabbi
01 Oct 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 01 Oct 2022 03:42:31
Gone are the days of typewriters

Once, clatter of typewriters filled the court, office of sub-registrar and other offices as people rushed to typists to write their deeds and documents and had to wait for a long time for their turn.

But, gone are the days of typewriters with the emergence of modern technology. Computer has almost replaced typewriter sending the machine to museum for next generations to look at it with amazement.

However, some typists are still holding on to the profession out of mere love and affection for the machine. They say the traditions of typewriters are almost gone.

A 70-year-old man named Ali Ahmed Raju was working on his typewriter under a tin shed structure just opposite the road in front of the National Press Club. He has been working as a typist there since 1975.

He said he came to Dhaka from Noakhali to look for a job. As he found people working as typists could earn more than a job holder he took typing as a profession.

“I loved to work here as a typist as financially it was better than what I needed and expected,” he said.

Recalling old memories, he said: “Different companies used to contact earlier to type financial reports or booklets. They took around two to three months for the work as we had to cope with heavy workload.”

They used to pay in advance to get the work done on time. But it is difficult to earn Tk200 to Tk300 now, he said with a sigh.

Over time, typists have left this profession and switched to computers, he said.

Nurun Nabi, who also works as a typist in front of the National Press Club, told The Business Post that very few people still did it out of their love and he was one of them.

Some old works still demand typewriters and that is why some people go to them but it is no suffice for them to run a family, he added.

Although this machine has already been replaced by computer its last vestige can be found only in and around court premises. Various petitions, summons and court documents are still typed on this old machine.

As a result, some people of this profession meet there. However, the previous excitement is not there any longer when typing could make a quick buck.

Md Zahirul Islam has sat at a table on the third floor of Bangladesh Supreme Court Bar Association’s building since 1978. Though he started as a typewriter he shifted to computer five to six years back.

He said he still had a typewriter. Various petitions, summons and some old documents need the works of typewriter instead of computer.

“Earlier we were 30-35 typists here. Among them, many have died, some have quit and now we are altogether three to four people doing it,” he added.

When he started, a page of typing could earn him Tk0.25 to Tk0.5 and a day’s income stood at about Tk10-Tk15. Now he types a page for Tk15-Tk20 and that too no very often.

Mrinal Kanti Das, who was sitting next to Zahirul, said he had also shifted to computer from typewriter.

Typewriters used here were bought in 1980s or 1990s. New typewriters are no longer available for purchase. Those typewriters are to be repaired for works, said the typists.

In 1973 the price of a typewriter was Tk11, 000. This machine originally came from Germany. Later, when it started coming from India, the price came down, they said.

After 1975 it was available for Tk8, 000 to Tk10, 000. In 1973, only English typewriter was available. After four to six years ‘Munir Optima Bangla Type Machine’ hit the market.

Ali Ahmed Raju, Zahirul Islam and Mrinal Kanti Das said they used ‘Munir Optima Bangla Type Machine’.

Typewriters need ribbons that were available at all stationery shops earlier but they are quite rare now as there is not high demand for them.

Some shopkeepers bring ribbons from India and it costs a little bit more. A ribbon lasts two to three months, they said.

Only three to four typists now sit under the tin shed room in front of the mosque at the Dhaka Judge Court while all others have shifted to computer.

Shekhor Babu who still works with typewriter said he had been working there for about 20 years. Everyone who worked with typewriters is now over 50-year old.

Many of them have left the profession and switched to computers while many have died due to old age. And now almost everyone works with computers. “However, some of us are still working with typewriters merely out of love,” he told The Business Post.

Prodip Kumar Das Khokon, President of Dhaka Judge Court Professional Typist Association, said life of a typist is like a cockroach. There is not much income as before and disappointment has gripped everyone.

Some have bought computers while many have bought their sons computers and brought them into the profession of typists, he said in a tone of frustration.