How-To Geek

Inside the IBM Selectric [Video]

The IBM Selectric was one of the best selling typewriters of the 1960s and 70s and featured a rather unique digital-binary to analog system that controlled a typeball instead of a row of type bars. Check out this video to look inside.

Courtesy of Bill Hammack of Engineer Guy Video, we’re treated to a peek inside the popular typewriter model and an upclose look at how the unique typeball rotates and tilts to precisely deliver each letter.

IBM Selectric Typewriter & Its Digital to Analogue Converter [Engineer Guy Video]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/2/12

Comments (7)

  1. Keith

    We have these on the shelf in my office

  2. r

    ..and it’s a lovely shade of beige too.

  3. Jon

    The success of the IBM selectric typewriter lead IBM to produce one of the first word processing systems for the professional typesetting trade, in the form of the IBM Mag Tape Selectric Composer (MT/SC). You typed-in a document to a magnetic tape storage unit, where you could freely edit without committing to printout. When the document was finished, it was output from mag tape to the selectric composer, which used the familiar “golf ball” printing element to produce justified, camera-ready text in the desired font. The MT/SC was a reliable workhorse at the company where I worked as a tech writer in the ’60’s. The following link shows an IBM brochure for the MT/SC.

  4. RonV42

    I mastered touch typing on one of these…great piece of hardware.

  5. Ushindi

    Again, many thanks for these.

  6. Brett

    Brings back fond memories. So long as I do not have to service them – absolutely diabolical… But a fantastic machine otherwise. Innovative, sexy, fast, versatile, stylish. The Selectric was all those things and more.

  7. Keith

    That is truly a typewriter with authority. You just *knew* that work was getting done. No way to hide it. If your typewriter wasn’t making noise, you were slacking or doddling. : )

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