IBM Selectric typewriter

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The IBM Selectric typewriter (occasionally known as the IBM Golfball typewriter) was a highly successful model line of electric typewriters. It was introduced in 1961.[1]

Instead of a "basket" of pivoting typebars the Selectric had a pivoting type element (frequently called a "typeball") that could be changed so as to display different fonts in the same document, resurrecting a capacity that had been pioneered by the Blickensderfer typewriter sixty years before. The Selectric also replaced the traditional typewriter's moving carriage with a paper roller ("platen") that stayed in position while the typeball and ribbon mechanism moved from side to side.

Selectrics and their descendants eventually captured 75 percent of the United States market for electric typewriters used in business.[2]

Contents

Features and uses

The ability to change fonts, combined with the neat regular appearance of the typed page, was revolutionary, and marked the beginning of desktop publishing. Later models with dual pitch (10/12) and built-in correcting tape carried the trend even further. Any typist could produce a polished manuscript. By 1966, a full typesetting version with justification and proportional spacing was released.

The possibility to intersperse text in Latin letters with Greek letters and mathematical symbols made the machine especially useful for scientists writing manuscripts that included mathematical formulas. The typical look of Selectric typed documents is hence still familiar to any scientist who reads conference proceedings, monographs, theses and the like from these times. (Proper mathematical typesetting was very laborious before the advent of TeX and done only for much-sold textbooks and very prestigious journals.)

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