The IBM Selectric reported for work in American offices 50 years ago on July 31, 1961. By the time it retired 25 years later, the Selectric had revolutionized office work and inspired many of the features of today’s word-processing computers:

  • The Selectric’s golf-ball print head moved across the page, eliminating the carriage return and reducing the amount of space the typewriter required on an office desk.
  • The golf-ball print head was interchangeable with other heads, bearing different fonts, italics, scientific notations and other languages.
  • The addition of magnetic tape for storing characters in 1964 made the Selectric the first analog word-processing machine.

The Selectric’s iconic-design was created by Eliot Noyes, a famous architect and industrial designer who served IBM as a consulting designer for 21 years. To commemorate the Selectric’s 50th business anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service is honoring man and machine with a stamp in the new “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” stamp series. The Postal Service cites Noyes as one of 12 important industrial designers who shaped how everyday American life looked in the 20th century.

Congratulations to IBM on the 50th business anniversary of the Selectric!

The IBM Selectric was the only typewriter I ever loved. Follow this blog to read the backstory of my  love affair with the IBM Selectric.

Blogger  Bio: Pauline Bartel, M.A., is President and Chief Creative Officer of
Bartel Communications, Inc., an award-winning corporate communications firm,
specializing in marketing, public relations and business anniversary consulting
services. The firm  created “The Bartel Years™” and “The Bartel Years 200™,” rosters of business  anniversary symbols to inspire two centuries of business anniversary
“sell”-abrations. Download free copies of “The Bartel Years™” and the special
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