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Definition: Selectric typewriter


Introduced in 1961 by IBM, the Selectric was the first typewriter to use a golf ball-like type element that moved across the paper, rather than moving the paper carriage past the individual character hammers. Allowing different fonts to be used by easily switching balls, the Selectric became extremely popular. See typewriter.




A Mechanical Marvel
With more than 2,500 parts, the Selectric was quite a change for IBM, which had been making typewriters since the 1930s.








The Selectric "Golf" Ball
IBM excelled in electromechanical devices, and Selectrics were office workhorses for decades. This type element sits in a 40-year old Selectric II that was still going strong in 2019. In 1991, IBM's typewriter division was spun off into Lexmark International, which manufactures laser printers and imaging products.