Selectric II

Turned on my new (to me) IBM Selectric II Correcting Typewriter tonight. Gwyn picked this up for me from a craigslist seller. Gwyn is somewhat enamored by typewriters (among other things retro) and was ecstatic when I finally picked up some typewriter ribbons for her portable typewriter she found at a thrift shop.

This Selectric has seen plenty of use. It has the film ribbon and I think bits from the many ribbons past are all collected up in the bottom of the typewriter, well not the bottom, but inside, on top of the mechanisms. The price was right, at $20 I figured I could turn it if I was bored by it. The seller claimed working, but needs a ribbon.

Uh, not quite. It mostly works but has an all but new ribbon already installed.

Photo from Wikipedia, Etan J. Tal


I guess I need to figure out how to take it apart and clean everything. The carriage is sometimes slow to move or doesn’t move full character spaces as it reaches the right side. It seems to be missing part of the guides for the correction tape. Space works intermittently and backspace/correct are nearly inoperable.

Cosmetically it looks good from 10 feet. This one is black which helps hide the years of use. I am partial to the blue and red colors but black is probably better than tan. The textured finish is worn from many wrist hours and someone wrote on the top with a black pen. I feel like I should put it on a walnut typewriter cart in a dimly lit office with some orange shag carpet.

I have to admit I was only slightly interested when we got this beast, but tonight I was surprised how much I enjoyed it so far. The 10 cpi Courier fontball produces the most beautifully sharp text. The exactness of the guides on the carriage is amazing. I need to research the tab mechanism, you can set multiple tabs some how, which is fascinating to me.

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