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The IBM Selectric typewriter's "golf ball"

The IBM Selectric typewriter's "golf ball"

The IBM Selectric typewriter's "golf ball"
The IBM Selectric typewriter, the machine that switched typeface styles by changing its "golf ball" element seen here, quite simply revolutionized the way in which the world typed. By using various Selectric typing elements, a user could type away in Hebrew (from right to left), or in Thai (left to right, with occasional ups and downs), or in modern or ancient Greek, or in Japanese phonetic Katakana, or in all of the romance languages, and perhaps even in Labanotation (the symbols used in choreography). The pedigree for the golf ball element goes back to 1946 and an umbrella-shaped development model in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., called a "mushroom printer." (The intent had been to use it as a printer on an IBM accounting machine.) Earlier versions did see some action with the IBM Stretch computer but it was in 1961, after seven years of honing and polishing, that the Selectric made its debut. What made it a best seller? Top quality, rugged reliability and that snap-in, snap-out typing element. More than 20 years after the product launch, an estimated eight million Selectrics were still twisting, tilting and typing away -- all kinds of models from the original to the Correcting and Mag Card Selectrics, the Memory Typewriter, Selectric Composers and various electronic models. (VV2122)