Technology changes, bureaucracy remains
For the benefit of puzzled younger readers, those strange mechanical devices seen in this 1971 photograph are called typewriters.
In a city like Abu Dhabi, filling with expatriate workers from across the globe, the demand for typed documents to satisfy legal and bureaucratic obligations was enormous.
It presented a great opportunity for any budding entrepreneur with enough dirhams to afford a typewriter and a few square feet for a chair and a desk, as shown here in the Abu Dhabi souq.
The typewriter was invented in the 1860s and ruled, unchallenged, until the 1980s.
A few typewriter manufacturers continue in business, demand fuelled by countries like India, and, ironically, because typed documents are immune to hackers and internet snoops. The UAE still has numerous “typing centres” although these days the documents are usually created on computers and, most likely, are filed electronically. Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation’s past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@ thenational.ae