IBM Selectric Typewriters

(advert sheet for the orginal Selectric I, circa 1962)

Why IBM Typewriters?

I joined IBM NZ in 1977 as a "Trainee Office Products Customer Engineer".

Suddenly propelled from the environment of servicing National Cash-Registers (NCR), into the professionally demanding office and corporate environment was quite a shock and required a certain customer skill, not only because of the people you were dealing with but also because you were representing IBM.  In 1979 I transferred from Wellington to the Auckland branch and although I was only with IBM a little short of five years, the impact on me (along with the specialized training and experiences) has remained my entire life.  In those days, and still to some degree even now (2012), IBM was not just a manufacturer of machines, it was a culture and for many, a way of life.

The purpose of this "My Story Behind" is not so much about IBM itself, rather, is more about the actual products of personal interest to me, predominantly these are the Typewriter range, particularly the iconic "Selectric" (celebrating 50 years since introduction on July 27 2011) and related products, but also the more modern "Wheelwriter" series, and a quirkly diversion into IBM's former clocks and time-keeping products (see related article - IBM Direct-Read Clocks

So for now, this page is a place-holder awaiting my attentions while I complete other articles.

In the meantime, if you are in NZ, and wanting your IBM Selectric Typewriter repaired I may be able to help. I have a good selection of new old-stock replacement parts, and all the required special tools and procedures for bringing out the best of these beauties. I have been maintaining IBM Typewriters continually for over 35 years, initially during my employment with IBM and subsequently through my roles as a contractor to IBM and then as a partner and Technical Specialist in the Wellington branch of ABLE Business Machines (now defunct following merger with the Connect NZ Group in 2006). ABLE Business Machines Wellington took over the operations of the former Aorangi Typewriter Company who had been in business close to 30 years.

Unfortunately, unless they are properly packed an IBM Selectric just does not travel well and because of the risk of damage from careless couriers and inadequate packing, I prefer to receive machines hand-delivered and collected (Wellington).  I may also be willing to make 'housecalls', depending on where you are located and given that you can pay several hundred $ for a good working Selectric, if you could even find one, perhaps an onsite visit is more affordable than you might think.  I can be contacted on cookee_nz(at)

I can service all IBM Selectric and Typebar models, IBM & Lexmark Wheelwriters, IBM Electronic Typewriters 50,60,75, IBM Composers and Memory Typewriters.  I can also service some models of Triumph-Adler Electronic Typewriters and some Brother Electronic Typewriters.

IBM "OPCEKit" - images of original spare parts as supplied in the normal Office Products Customer Engineer repair kit. These are generally 'high-mortality' parts that were used in day to day Service and Preventive Maintenance. They are also parts you would expect to replace during reconditioning.

History of the IBM Selectric Typewriter - (IBM Icons of Progress - 100 years)

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Download link for a pdf (11Mb) of the "IBM Selectric Typewriter Adjustment/Parts Manual" (right-click and select "Save link as..." to save directly to your PC)

** Note - This manual is written for Customer Engineers trained or experienced on the IBM Selectric, it is in addition to the full service manual and not a replacement.

The IBM Selectric is a complex machine. The first section of this manual illustrates only the actual adjustments themselves, not HOW to make the adjustment (although some are quite obvious), nor will it explain how the individual mechanisms work. For that information detail you will need the full Service Manual.  The second section of this manual shows exploded parts diagrams for the entire "Selectric" Typewriter range (but not individual part numbers, that is another complete book).

Further information on 'Golfball' typewriters and a discussion forum can be found here (Yahoo Groups - GolfballTypewriterShop).