Typewriter maker Olympia still sells some 3,500 Chinese-made items per year despite the ubiquity of computers, mostly to companies which use the old-fashioned tools to fill out special types of forms. Well now Russia’s intelligence service has reportedly ordered 20 of the devices, which are difficult to trace.
Andreas Fostiropoulos, Olympia purchasing manager:
"There seems to be a call for tender for these typewriters from the security agency. We replied to this request from our partner as we usually would with an offer. We of course know who is behind it: it is indeed the intelligence service but there is no direct contact with us through any agents or Mr. Putin himself."
Fostiropoulos explained that the specialised typewriters would be useful for spies. Typewriters which use a carbon ribbon are more common that those sold by Olympia, however the messages typed on them can be reconstructed if the used ribbon is recovered because each keystroke removes some of the carbon. Olympia’s typewriters use an ink-soaked canvas ribbon which does not leave a history if the canvas is recovered.
The Olympia representative declined to say if interest had jumped in their uniquely difficult to trace product after the massive electronic surveillance programme of the United States was revealed. The US’s spy programme reportedly also bugged EU offices, sparking outrage in Germany and leading to a fall in German public opinion of their American allies.