Open Access

The Motives for and Consequences of the Introduction of Typewriters and Word Processing in the British Civil Service


Until the late nineteenth century the British Civil Service relied on handwritten documents which were hand copied by armies of clerks and filed. The next stage was that handwritten documents were copied by armies of typists and then filed. The third stage was that documents were, largely, typed by their authors and distributed via email or other means, at which point the system of filing seems to have broken down. The two major inflection points were roughly 100 years apart, and both the move to the typewriter and the move to email were motivated by a wish to save money.