Perhaps one of the greatest electric typewriter
series of all time. (That is, unsubstantiated
, unresearched opinion.)
The Selectric lived from 1961 - 1986 approx, when phased out by IBM Wheelwriter
daisy-wheel typewriters. Wheelwriters come with microprocessor
s and limited ROM
setups. I believe the earliest ones could memorize a page or so of data; the latest have primitive non-WYSIWYG PC-DOS
type word processors on a tiny monitor, and have lower-density floppies
interchangeable with PC-DOS.
Selectrics were revolutionary in that most
previous typewriters, including the contemporary IBM Model A/B/C/D/Executive line, have a moveable platen
. Think back to Snoopy
moving the "shuttle" back and forth on his toy typewriter. Selectrics move the print head
, not the platen. The result: smooth, non-jerky typing which does not require the typist
to remove his/her hands from the keyboard.
The print head is a small metallic ball, nicknamed by many the "golf ball." The golf ball is studded with the characters of a particular font
(usually a variation of Courier, as on a fixed-font typewriter.) Golf balls are very easy to replace, compared to disassembling a typewriter based on a direct-strike, hammer, moveable platen setup. They snap out by pulling a latch on the top of the ball. Early models like the original 71 have traditional carbon or ink tape spools, but later models have cartridges. From personal experience, replacement of model 71 ribbons is a major pain.
Selectrics came in a few different incarnations
during their life-span.
Model 71 - Original "scalloped" design
Model 72 - "Scalloped" design plus cartridge ink spools (no more broken spools stuck in the print head.)
Model II (1973) - New, flattened keyboard design, enhanced cartridge for greater ease
Model II Correcting - Keyboard input correction
Model III -- Last incarnation -- New guided paper input system, redesigned cartridge, redesigned keyboard.
Selectrics of any stripe
make great tool
s for the budding poet
, or just as a conversational piece
. Diligent thrift store
or garage sale scouting
will find low-cost or free units, usually in very good cosmetic
ly near perfect condition. Ask, and don't be suprised to find a good or free deal.
Perhaps the only caveat
is finding both parts and ribbons. Yet, these can be found in junk piles; office supply stores stock series II and III supplies. Model 71 and 72 bits can be purchased either online or through junk bin searching. However, Selectrics appear to be built for Mutually Assured Destruction