IBM Selectric Typewriter


Growing up we had two typewriters in my house. Both of them were old beautiful manual machines. I had seen electric ones on TV, but the first one I saw was when I was in elementary school and I was sitting in the reception area to the principal’s office. I can remember it very clearly.

The room was cramped and the school secretary was typing away on this IBM marvel, the Selectric Typewriter. I could not help but approach and start asking questions about it. She told me about it and then complained about how it was very outdated. I had never seen anything like it before, so I could hardly believe that anything that moved so fast could be outdated.

To this day, whenever I see an electric typewriter, I think of that tired overworked secretary and that whirring typeball.


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7 thoughts on “IBM Selectric Typewriter

  1. Bgood1973 says:

    Reminds of of keyboarding 101 in high school. The only typewriter I could ever do 60 words a minute on.

  2. mwentworth says:

    I used one of these helping my dad with side business, selling old time radio on cassette tapes. I would type the labels with this and was pretty damn fast. In fact there were certain phrases (like “Amos and Andy” or “Fibber Mcgee and Molly”) that flew from my fingers so fast, I could actually get the machine to screw up. Ha ha! Even now when my typing skills are pathetic, I can type OTR titles at a few hundred WPM.

  3. Brian says:

    I also had a keyboarding 101type class in high school (called Typing I IIRC). The year was 1983 and, yes, the IBM Selectric was the typewriter we used. For some reason, there were only a few boys in the class and about 20 girls. Poor me.

  4. m krosse says:

    me too. the epiphany was the correcting Selectric.

    it was 1971. i needed a typewriter for my senior thesis. i had bought a $100 Sears manual typewriter. the letter ‘e’ was always sticking (arrggghhhh). i used erasable paper and the keys were gumming up with my rubber eraser droppings.

    the rich kid in the next dorm room had a correcting Selectric….a wondrous machine for which i developed an immediate longing.

    one of my first purchases upon a full time paying job was a correcting Selectric.

    of course, these days used Selectrics are boat anchors. you can’t even give them away.

  5. Professorc30 says:

    m krosse, you can give your Selectric to me. I enjoy refurbishing Selectrics and restoring them to active use. If you have one you want to give away, you can email me at professorc30 (at) yahoo (d0t) com.

    The IBM Selectric has been cited as one of the most important mechanical innovations of the Twentieth Century. Writers are especially fond of them due to the lack of distractions compared to computers.

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