Tag Archives | Typewriters

Happy Fiftieth Birthday, IBM Selectric

Last month, I had fun paying tribute to Polaroid’s SX-70, an old-technology gadget that’s all the more extraordinary because there was nothing digital about it. The SX-70 came to mind again when I learned that IBM’s Selectric typewriter is marking its fiftieth anniversary. It was a great leap forward beyond every typewriter of the time, both technologically sophisticated and beautifully designed. And it remains pretty darn cool even if most of us will never use one again.

To celebrate the Selectric’s fiftieth, I put together a slideshow of evocative images and interesting factoids, including stuff about later models–such as the $21,000 (!!!) Selectric Magnetic Tape Composer. Here it is.


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It’s Selectric! IBM’s Classic Typewriter Turns Fifty

Do you remember typewriters? Of course you do. But do you remember the last time a typewriter was exciting and futuristic? That would be 1961, when IBM released its first Selectric. It went on sale on July 27th, which makes this Sunday its fiftieth anniversary. (IBM is celebrating its own hundredth birthday this year, making the Selectric a nifty half-way point in its long history.)

The result of seven years of research, the Selectric went on to become one of the best-selling office devices ever. It’s been so archaic for so long that it’s tough to remember just how remarkable it was in its day–and there’s no better time than right now to give it its due.


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Rumors of the Typewriter’s Death: Greatly Exggerated

On yesterday night’s NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams reported the tragic news of the passing of a beloved international icon: the typewriter.

The factoid about the last typewriter factory closing struck me as surprising–even implausible. The typewriter may have been an endangered species for decades, but many, many businesses move really, really slowly. If there are still companies in America who use them–and I’ll bet even some big outfits have them on hand to address the occasional envelope–there are surely ones elsewhere in the world who aren’t ready to give them up.

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