True to type: How the humble typewriter became a force for great social change in modern India

The typewriter was not just another machine.

This humble device facilitated great social change in India, not the least of which was the entry of women in the workplace in large numbers. It brought efficiency and economic value not just to large organisations but also to individuals who made their modest incomes via their typewriters.

Now, the typewriter is the subject of a new book called 'With Great Truth & Regard' edited by Sidharth Bhatia, with photos by Chirodeep Chaudhuri, and published by Godrej & Boyce. Thirteen essays have been contributed to the book, by writers like Vikram Doctor, Naresh Fernandes and historian David Arnold.

The book was charged with bringing to life the wider role that the typewriter has played in India, and it does so by bringing alive an era that you grew up in, through multiple, diverse perspectives. It travels back in time to rediscover what it meant to be living and working in India in the latter half of the 20th century (primarily for designers, academia and younger people).

This is not an academic study, although it is a socio-cultural history of a period — the 1950s to the end of the last century — from the perspective of the typewriter and its users. Personal memories and factual accounts make this an evocative read, eliciting nostalgia.

Here's a look at some of the images from the book that tell the story of the typewriter better than a thousand words:

Pt Jawaharlal Nehru typing on a Godrej Typewriter at the Avadi Session of the Indian National Congress in 1955. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

Pt Jawaharlal Nehru typing on a Godrej Typewriter at the Avadi Session of the Indian National Congress in 1955. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

Design Team at Godrej, 1972. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

Design Team at Godrej, 1972. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

First All-Indian Typewriter by Godrej: Ad from Industrial India, 1956. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

First All-Indian Typewriter by Godrej: Ad from Industrial India, 1956. Photo courtesy: Godrej Archives

From 'With Great Truth & Regard'

From 'With Great Truth & Regard'

From 'With Great Truth & Regard'

From 'With Great Truth & Regard'

An office in 1984. Photo courtesy: Sooni Taraporevala

An office in 1984. Photo courtesy: Sooni Taraporevala

Bombay Parsi Homeopathic Pharmacy at Dhobi Talao

Parsi Homeopathic Pharmacy at Dhobi Talao

Bombay Parsi Homeopathic Pharmacy at Dhobi Talao

Parsi Homeopathic Pharmacy at Dhobi Talao

Delhi: Sub-Registrars office at Asaf Ali Road

Delhi: Sub-Registrars office at Asaf Ali Road

V N Barve, Limca Book record holder. Image courtesy: Chirodeep Chaudhuri

V N Barve, Limca Book record holder. Image courtesy: Chirodeep Chaudhuri

Delhi: Tis Hazari District Court. Image courtesy: Chirodeep Chaudhuri

Delhi: Tis Hazari District Court. Image courtesy: Chirodeep Chaudhuri

Typewriter artist Chandrakant Bhide

Typewriter artist Chandrakant Bhide


Updated Date: Dec 11, 2016 09:02 AM

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