ONE MILLION DOLLARS worth of Typewriters.


Just last year, New York City signed a $982,269 contract with Swintec for the purchase of thousands of new manual and electric typewriters over the next three years -- some of which retail for as much as $649 apiece. And last month, the city signed a $99,570 deal with Afax Business Machines for the maintenance of its existing typewriters.

The department is working on software to eliminate the old machines, a rep said.


26 Responses:

  1. I am in awe of the name "Swintec." They made up a word that evokes swine and swindles simultaneously... and nothing else.

  2. bdu says:

    Yes, best to write your own word processor than choose from among the several quite popular models available. In the meantime, please use the most archaic technology available to complete the task, thanks.

  3. mark242 says:

    I'd like to see people who purchase vinyl records chime in on this, please.

  4. greatevil says:

    I'd just like to point out all the stores that use over priced PC's to run green screen apps from the era or War Games. and then print to line printers. I am looking at you Sears.

    • badc0ffee says:

      I've seen those PCs with a 17" flat panel running Windows and whatever 3270 emulator. They're probably $500 apiece - I bet finding and maintaining an original 3270 would be more expensive, consume more power and have a worse keyboard.

      • greatevil says:

        Legacy systems have their place in the world for sure. And the quality of a tested and hardened enterprise system can not be underrated. However. At some point it is hard to find hardware to run the env, hard to find programmers and such and most of all it is hard to do silly modern things with.

        That said the person who walks in the door and offers you COTS Java web portal should be shot and then shot again to be sure.

  5. vordark says:

    Until last year, our city clerk used an electric typewriter to fill out car registration forms. Apparently it took until 2009 for them to figure out that word processor plus laser printer equaled good times.

  6. It appears the $982k contract isn't for "thump key, metal strikes paper" typewriters the writer would like us to visualise, but for essentially 1980s-style word processors, single purpose computers with built-in printing that are good for automatically filling out paper forms. The mechanical typewriters aren't in the final contract except for its title.

    Still obsolete, but only by a decade or two, and probably not a lot slower than using a PC (and that's assuming every New York detective is computer literate which may be a lot to ask). The biggest loss here is that this data is on paper at all, which means it's not easy to do anything useful with it in bulk. Long term they need tailored software that meets New York's specific requirements for documenting police work, and it sounds like they've been slowly working on that.

    • Dennis says:

      Closer to two decades than one. Floppy disks? No HD? No network?

      Hey NYC! Psssst... I've got some nice Displaywriters or maybe some Wangs. Wait, you want some Brother daisywheel printers or how 'bout some primo NEC Spinwriters? Whatever you want, NYC, I can make you the best deal. You just stick with me.

    • pikuorguk says:

      Yes, it's nice when people bother to find out some more accurate facts, rather than mindlessly regurgitating the web at each other.

      Maybe they'll phase Amstrad PCWs in over the next five years to replace the typewriters ;)

    • lionsphil says:

      Also, when was the last time you had to reinstall the OS on a typewriter after it got infested with malware/randomly shat itself/had a drive failure?

      Sufficiently simple tech goooood. Using Wintel for everything baaaaad.

    • ciphergoth says:

      That's EVEN WEIRDER! I thought they needed typewriters to type directly onto forms. If they're not even doing that, why the hell aren't they using a standard word processor?

  7. discogravy says:

    but think of how much time they save by not allowing the detectives access to twitter and facebook

  8. chuck_lw says:

    Most of those typewriters will probably be used by people who thought they'd have a stable career in IT by now.


    Not that I have any experience in these matters...

  9. baconmonkey says:

    Of the roughly 500 NYPD officers Linn interviewed for a study on arrest behavior, many mentioned the outdated equipment as part of their reason for being averse to making arrests for less serious crimes.

    • wasteddream says:

      I was reading recently a NYPD officer's account of how long it takes to process an arrest. It's not uncommon to be sitting with one person for the better part of six or seven hours. That's six or seven times as long as is reasonable.

  10. strspn says:

    Palm WebOS disillusionment rant which overlooks Android for some reason I can't figure out....

  11. dasht says:

    In many not implausible disaster scenarios, the civic authority having a cache of manual and electric typewriters is a complete win. Meanwhile, any use value they can get from that cache is just icing on the cake. The only stupid part is that bs about "software to eliminate." I'll be impressed when someone shows me such software.


  12. lafinjack says:

    If the majority of your work is filling out quintuplicate forms, the word processors tlrmx described are perfect and much simpler than a network of computers/thin clients and a shared laser printer.

  13. cattycritic says:

    My first printer was a Swintec combination typewriter and printer that used a daisywheel and had a parallel port. My dad paid $600 for it and for some reason didn't use it for his business, so he gave it to me. Quite honestly, it was a ripoff. It was really slow and REALLY LOUD, even for 1988.