Kerist I wish I was a skyscraper

August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Swintec, a New Jersey typewriter company, is one of the last manufacturers standing in a dying industry. What has helped keep it alive? Funeral homes.

Funeral directors in a handful of states must tap out death certificates on a typewriter, relics of the days when the machines represented a modern improvement over an undertaker’s handwriting.

“If they run out of typewriter tape, they’re out of business,” says Edward Michael, a Swintec executive…

On “The Wire,” a police drama that aired in the 2000s, Baltimore detectives pounded out warrants on electric typewriters. In reality, some law-enforcement agencies still use them. The Philadelphia Police Department has about 200 typewriters to write property receipts and search warrants, a spokesman said.

Swintec thrived on this type of government business, but sales were declining by the late 1990s. Then the company stumbled on an idea: a clear typewriter for prisons.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Bob Willoughby; COLOUR: traquea

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