I am currently reading Century of the Typewriter by Wilfred A. Beeching (who once ran the British Typewriter Museum in Hampshire, England, apparently no longer in existence according to this unverifiable, random Internet source). It was written in 1974, although its formal prose style and the yellowed pages of this old library copy make it seem much older.
The most interesting parts of this book are not the encyclopedic lists of typewriter makes and models, but rather the cultural asides: the role of the typewriter in the emancipation of women, Mr. Beeching's own prescient forecast of the typewriter's future ("The day may come when the letter typed will appear in front of the operator on a television screen in any selected type face, and by pressing a button, be transferred electronically to sensitized paper") and especially, his proud and paternal statement on the longevity of the machine:
Very few typewriters ever appear to be thrown away and consigned to the flames or the dustbin. Some find their way to the auction sale and come under the hammer, and many are rebuilt-- some of them on more than one occasion.
Typewriters can last for fifty or sixty years or even more and, it may perhaps be said, seem almost indestructable.... It is also worth pointing out that a good reconditioned typewriter is generally a better proposition than a used car. There are far more second-hand typewriters being efficiently used then their are second-hand motor cars of the same age. No four-bank typewriter should be condemned solely because of its age. In this connection it is worth pointing out that machines should be kept in warm, dry offices and should be regularly maintained for they suffer more from neglect than use.
He said, brandishing his cane! But, he has a point, no? There is a rare garage or yard sale out there without at least one typewriter laying in wait beneath the folded up deck chairs and fake Christmas tree. It is somehow hard to throw one away.
Perhaps the current generation of whippersnappers may never know a device built with the intention to last; they were born too late to appreciate the quality that issued forth from companies unversed in the cynical art of planned obsolescence.
All of this is good news for those of you thinking of getting yourselves a refurbished typewriter; it will probably be almost as good as new.