4 Seemingly Extinct Products That Are Still Weirdly Huge


Typewriters Are Still Being Made (For Prisoners)

After the advent of the thing used to type this sentence, typewriters became obsolete. Or did they? There’s actually still a big, lucrative market for dumb computers you can’t watch porn on: the U.S. prison-industrial complex.

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The one benefit(?) a typewriter has over a computer is that you can’t plug it into the web. That’s why people still use typewriters in prisons, but there is a drawback: they’re perfect for illegal inmate activities. They’re easy to hide contraband in, and they’re full of metal parts — basically starter kits for shanks. Worse, in order for guards to inspect typewriters, they need to be completely disassembled, which is such a frustrating and delicate procedure that they are often broken in the process, or so the guards say.

SwintecWe all know they only want to silence Mad Dog Maddox’s Property Brothers fanfiction; it’s too seditious.

That’s why one New Jersey company, Swintec, is making and servicing typewriters made entirely of clear plastic. They have contracts with prisons in 43 states for the production of shank-and-drug-free typewriters. They even manufacture clear typewriter ribbon cases.

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Access to typewriters isn’t a human right according to the prison system; it’s a very expensive privilege. A Swintec bought through a prison commissary can be anywhere from $200 in California to well over $300 in Kentucky. That’s a lot for a typewriter that prisoners claim types like hot garbage and breaks constantly. But without bloodstained drafts snail-mailed from state prisons, where would this website be?

Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here. Michael Battaglino is a new contributor to Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article.

But since you’re presumably not in prison, you can still get a nice typewriter yourself and just kinda use it to show off.

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For more, check out 5 Outdated Things That Are Still Around For Some Reason and 4 Hopelessly Outdated Technologies People Still Use.

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