Newsletter Issue #908: Assuming that Apple Can’t Innovate

April 24th, 2017

Do you remember the IBM Selectric? It represented the pinnacle of traditional typewriter technology before companies tried to turn them into rudimentary word processing machines. The Selectric made it easy to change typefaces by putting the letters on tiny switchable font elements or balls.

My recollection of the Selectric is that they were smooth, reasonably reliable and expensive. Even better, IBM would easily finance most anyone, making it possible to get one with for a small monthly fee. That’s how I acquired my red Selectric II in the early 1970s. At one time, the Selectric had 75% of the typewriter market.

The Selectric survived from its introduction in 1961 until 1986 with only modest changes. I kept mine for well over a decade, until it developed some irritating mechanical problems, and I replaced it with one of those so-called electronic typewriters that were sold in the heady days before personal computers took over.

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