By: Ben Macintyre
LONDON — As the last British typewriter rolls off the assembly line, it is worth recalling the astonishment that accompanied the first one, patented in 1714: “An artificial machine or method for impressing or transcribing of letters, one after another, so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.”
When the typewriter arrived in general use in the 1860s, many feared that this new-fangled contraption would lead to a decline in literacy. Precisely the same fears were expressed in the 1980s, when the typewriter gave way to the word processor and personal computer.
Today, as voice-activated writing takes the place of keyboard and mouse, we are on the cusp of another written revolution.
Making notes on the train in preparation for this column, I simply dictated to Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant inside my iPhone, who took it all down word for word. One day…