To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth...

A man of the cloth and the steel he wields

More Selectrics, a Curious Olivetti, An Ursula and a mini typewriter hunt with Key Snap!

DSC00647 sii-b

The foam soundproofing on every Selectric I age machine I've encountered is usually disintegrating, dry dust and fragile cellophane. On Selectric II's the foam is gooey and liquifies when touched. It's actually easier to remove in this state, but it's an ickky job.

The foam soundproofing on every Selectric I age machine I’ve encountered is usually disintegrating, dry dust and fragile cellophane. On Selectric II’s the foam is gooey and liquifies when touched. It’s actually easier to remove in this state, but it’s an ickky job.

Motor is datestamped 26 Oct 1978

Motor is datestamped 26 Oct 1978

DSC00627

The lower case datestamp (I think) reads June 1978.

The lower case datestamp (I think) reads June 1978.

The uppser case datestamp suggests January 1979 (maybe?)

The uppser case datestamp suggests January 1979 (maybe?)

sii-c sii-d

The Linea 88b as I saw it yesterday. Snapped a pic on my phone and left it behind.

The Linea 88b as I saw it yesterday. Snapped a pic on my phone and left it behind.

sii-e DSC00649 sii-a DSC00652

Sitting next to the Linea, an old signal tester. Nifty looking, in that 1950's "I'm testing for RADIATION" sort of way.

Sitting next to the Linea, an old signal tester. Nifty looking, in that 1950’s “I’m testing for RADIATION” sort of way.

What I did get yesterday was this Radio Shack "Executive Decision Maker" for $1. Luckily I did not consult it for advice on whether I should be adopting more typewriters.

What I did get yesterday was this Radio Shack “Executive Decision Maker” for $1. Luckily I did not consult it for advice on whether I should be adopting more typewriters.

sii-f DSC00659 DSC00660

An interesting but badly broken Ursula at Bill's shop. The owner wants to trade it for an electric. I may have to jump on that.

An interesting but badly broken Ursula at Bill’s shop. The owner wants to trade it for an electric. I may have to jump on that.

The IBM "Personal Typewriter" is basically a Single-Pitch Correcting Selectric II mechanically, and takes the 88-Character type elements used in SI's and SII's, but uses Selectric III "Bicycle" carbon ribbons - all stuffed into the size format of an 11" Selectric I. They were made *after* IBM discontinued the Selectric II (IE: produced concurrently with the SIII), and are fairly rare. If they only had dual-pitch and the SI's curvy scalloped body, it would be the PERFECT Selectric.

The IBM “Personal Typewriter” is basically a Single-Pitch Correcting Selectric II mechanically, and takes the 88-Character type elements used in SI’s and SII’s, but uses Selectric III “Bicycle” carbon ribbons – all stuffed into the size format of an 11″ Selectric I. They were made *after* IBM discontinued the Selectric II (IE: produced concurrently with the SIII), and are fairly rare. If they only had dual-pitch and the SI’s curvy scalloped body, it would be the PERFECT Selectric.

DSC00665

The "Tilt" tape is missing, and the "Rotate" tape is slipped off it's pulley. After careful examination, I think I can fix it. Just need to hit up MTE for another Tilt tape.

The “Tilt” tape is missing, and the “Rotate” tape is slipped off it’s pulley. After careful examination, I think I can fix it. Just need to hit up MTE for another Tilt tape.

DSC00667

Updated: November 20, 2013 — 8:53 pm

25 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Lots of news about Olde Junque — just what I love!

    So what IS an IBM Personal Typewriter? Is it a stripped-down Selectric I or something?

    Today I picked up a black Selectric II (quite dirty), some extra balls, and some ribbons. I won it all on eBay for $1!

    I also won a set of balls including Calligraphy that are going to set me back more than twenty times as much. But Calligraphy was a must-have after seeing your posts.

    1. Glad to oblige! (:

      I’ve added more photos and text showing the “IBM Personal Typewriter” and explaining what it is: basically a monster hybrid of various features of all 3 major Selectric variations. It’s *almost* the PERFECT Selectric design.

      Haha! Glad to see I’m spreading Selectric love to the rest of the ‘sphere with my font frenzy. I think Eric would have snatched this little Personal Selectric himself if it had worked well in the store! :D

      1. Interesting, thanks for the photos. This machine is new to me. It looks squashed horizontally when you’re used to seeing the fat later Selectrics. I agere that a curvy body would be ideal.

        Love the Executive Decision Maker, BTW.

      2. You’re right I would have held onto it if it worked. But I think it would have ended up with you eventually. I just don’t have the love for the Selectrics that you do.

        1. Well, I think Ryan and I would have fought over it eventually. He likes the rumbly IBM’s too. :D

  2. I can tell you what it’s not, Richard – light. I taxed my newly repaired arm to its limit getting that beast into a shopping cart. Thank goodness Ted came to get it before I had to take it out of my car! As tempting as interchangable type elements are, I think I’ll stick to manual portables.

    1. I wonder why they decided to make Selectrics so darn heavy. Seems to me that was unnecessary. But I guess IBM had been making desk-crushing devices from the start!

      1. Heh, you know how many metal parts go into a Selectric? The smaller 11″ shell barely has room to breathe inside. The smaller ones are probably only 5-8lb lighter than the bigger 13″ and 15″ ones because the only real difference is the size of the carriage and a lot of empty casing.

  3. Oh, the carbon ribbon on the Personal Selectric was almost used up, so I took it out and unspooled it looking for clues to how it was used. Turns out the first 1/4 of the ribbon is covered in mostly lowercase letters with a mix of capitals, numbers and punctuation that would indicate normal typing of real words. The type ball loaded at that time was 12 pitch Letter Gothic. After this section, the typing becomes all numeric with occasional bursts of the left paranthesis “(” and the letter “Z”. Still in Letter Gothic, but absolute gibberish. About halfway through the ribbon, the typeface switches to Olde English, but the content is still all numeric with bursts if the “(” and “Z”. My guess is it got passed down to a very young kid with an aversion to the alphabet (except the letter “Z”).

    1. That’ll be Shakespeare turning in his grave!

      1. Actually, I figured out that those characters are the only ones that will print with the Tilt tape busted off. Thus, the 1/4 mark is where the tape broke, and the rest of the 3/4ths of the ribbon were burned up by people just hitting keys. The odd part is why they would switch the type ball in the middle of all that random gibberish, and why they would just randomly hit keys on an obviously busted machine long enough to burn up 3/4ths of a ribbon.

        1. Sounds like someone was letting the kids (or grandkids) play “office” on the broken old machine. That or they were hoping it would start working again if they just hit the right combination of keys…

  4. Thanks for the great post. I never knew IBM made a Personal Writer, only the big Selectric line. The one reason I would like to have a Selectric is all the neat type balls. I really like the Old English. It is fancy, yet still easy to read.

    1. Olde English is a typeface I didn’t really seek out, mainly because it was a pretty popular and commonplace one to find. I knew it would eventually show up as part of a set, and here it is! :D

      I’m still hoping to find GP Oriental (ha! with Claudia scouring the world offering a kings ransom for it, it seems unlikely that I’ll just happen upon it at a thrift store) and GP Contempo.

  5. I still can’t quite get my head around the concept of plugging in a typewriter but your enthusiasm may prove contagious! Reports on the Linea 88 are that it was (uncharacteristically for Olivetti) built to a price and wasn’t especially popular. Mine has exactly the same absent shift key. The braked tabulator action is pretty amazing though and it types well.

    1. Yeah, the Linea isn’t a bad typer at all. Right off the thrift shelf it typed fine and freely, even as dirty as it was inside. I’m just not sure what this particular all-caps typeface was intended for – it’s not really a “mill” typeface (zero can’t be distinguished from “O”) and Orator-style typefaces generally have caps in *both* typeslug positions. I’ve never seen a machine where the lowercase letters were simply omitted and replaced with some weird double-dot character.

      I’m getting more and more confident and knowledgeable about the insides of Selectrics with each new one I rescue. They are fascinating to work on, although really intimidating at first. I’ve already got the rotate tape and carriage return problems fixed on the Personal Selectric, and I think that Tilt tape is the only issue left to clear up before it’s typing like a champ again (:

  6. Congratulations of your new machine and typing element! Nice! I love your little container for the golfballs!

    1. Yep, got to be too many of them just to let ’em rattle around in my desk drawer :D

  7. LOVE the Selectric II, as you already know! I don’t have any problems with a plugged-in typewriter as long as it’s my SII. The awesomeness alone is worth the sight of a cord running off the end of the table. The hummmm, the whirrrrr, the rapid clickety-clack, the not-hitting-the-person-or-object-next-to-me-with-the-moving-carriage … all awesome.

    I have 17 type elements right now — a great eBay find a while back — in a two-drawer plastic box (9 fit on each level). Some are duplicates, though. Maybe if I start to feel too guilty about collecting typewriters (which takes up a lot of space really fast), I can start collecting type elements for the SII instead. Much easier to hide one’s obsession when it doesn’t weigh 50 pounds.

    1. Yep, I was a manual purist for quite awhile (see the early posts in this blog) and only converted to Selectrimania fairly recently with my discovery of the curvy George Jetson-style model 700’s a year or so ago. Once I started working on them, I found them to be quite fun to figure out mechanically, and really sweet to type on. My typeface craze only started about a month or two ago.

      And yes, even though Selectric are huge, heavy and electric, the fact that the typeballs are varied, cheap, light and super-small is a huge attraction to keeping at least one Selectric around, no matter what model you like best.

  8. By the way, that first picture of the Selectric in this post looks like a skeleton. Kinda creepy… ;)

    1. Hey, that’s where the magic happens! :D

  9. Very nice “Ursula”! I like the detailed pictures, thanks for reporting!

  10. As you all know, I’m a fan of the Selectric line. Remember that Selectrics were made for business-use and durability, not personal use *until* the Personal Selectric came along in 1982/1983. They are so darn heavy because by IBM’s count there are over 2,800 parts inside a Selectric, with the majority of them being steel. I agree that the SI’s were the most stylish, but the engineering is what attracts me to Selectrics. It is rumored that the Personal Selectric was an attempt to use up some of the enormous stockpile of SII parts that IBM had, although many parts are specific to the Personal Selectric and won’t interchange. I owned a Personal Selectric and uploaded pictures of it to the typewriter database.
    http://typewriterdatabase.com/1983-ibm-personal-selectric-851.1111.typewriter

    Ted, more specifically “26” in your serial number indicates it was assembled in Austin, Texas. There were other US plants in New York, Rochester, Poughkeepsie and Lexington. There were also other assembly plants all over the world. There were over 13 million Selectrics built and sold. I have been searching for serial number information on Selectrics as well and turned up nothing. As you noticed, many of the parts inside the machine are date-stamped, so you can come up with an approximate guess.

    I understand the allure of a light, portable machine that doesn’t need to be plugged in, but there is nothing that compares to the “touch” of a Selectric.

    1. True, true. I kind of think of Selectrics as big-bore musclecars. Intricately machined, fine-tuned and unbelievably powerful. :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth... © 2015 Frontier Theme