You know how to make sure a government agency — or if you are a government agency, then Wikileaks — won’t eventually read everything you type? By dumping your laptop and clacking the keys on something like an old-fashioned Selectric, then hand-delivering the result to your correspondent.
That appears to be the rationale behind the Russian government‘s decision to purchase new typewriter equipment. The country’s Federal Guard Agency has placed an order for 486,000 roubles worth of electric typewriters, according to the Russian procurement service website.
Granted, that’s only about $15,000 worth, an estimated 20 typewriters, but this is just one order. More important is the revelation given by a source at the agency to Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper: the Defense ministry, the Emergencies ministry and the “special services” are already creating documents on non-electronic devices. President Putin is already receiving some of his correspondence this way, Izvestiya said.
“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks and the exposes by Edward Snowden,” the anonymous source explained, “it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents” — especially because each document can be traced back to its unique typewriter signature.
So will typewriters become a trend among the privacy-obsessed? They certainly have hipster appeal. A number of Brooklyn-based writers raved about them to the New York Times a few years back. Users love the fact that it forces you to commit to your thoughts without relying on the delete key, as well as the fact that you need never run out of power for want of a wall outlet.
Add in the clandestine correspondence factor, and typewriters might as well be dubbed the new vinyl. Reports that the world’s last typewriter factory closed its doors a few years ago turned out to be false; there is still a thriving trade in these ink-making machines, though most of it is in the developing world.
Would you switch to a typewriter for any reason? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re wondering what kind of typewriters the Russians favor, the agency order apparently included ribbons for the Triumph Adlew TWEN 180: “recommended for confidential documents,” according to Izvestiya. Order yours today!