Keyboard Builders' Digest
Keyboard Builders' Digest / Inspiration

IBM Selectric teardown poster

Looking at this IBM Selectric teardown I'm glad we build mechanical keyboards and not typewriters.

The other day, osegueradev posted a photo of a disassembled IBM Selectric. This was the third otherwise intriguing post without source or context this week and I couldn't help but look up the origin of this project too.

It turned out this is a poster made by David V. Hughes for IBM 6 years ago.

I took apart a classic IBM Selectric typewriter to create a poster for publication on IBM’s master brand social platforms. This was not only published digitally, but also available as a print – David V. Hughes.

You can find more pictures on the project page and tumblr.

An infallible principle from the poster quoting the IBM maintenance manual (1975):

All parts should go together without forcing. Therefore, if you can't get them back together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer – IBM maintenance manual 1975.

In case you are interested in the inner working mechanism of this piece of history, at least when all the parts are put together, Chyrosran22 made a video about just that:

Finally, a little anecdote from danielhehir1 in the comments:

I used to work for IBM in 1979 repairing these machines. Never see them anymore. Died out like the dinosaur. There were over 600 fine adjustments in these selectrics. All had to be perfectly tuned to get it to work properly. In my first few weeks out in the field in Lansing, Mich. repairing them, I managed to drop a brand new machine on the floor from the top of the desk. It tipped over backwards and fell down on the floor, right on its four feet. I had to take it home that very night to set it all up again. Everything got knocked out of wack. It took me the whole night to fix it up again. The woman who used it got it back the next day... Not 100% in order again as I did have to go back to her office several times to adjust and readjust. A true nightmare for my new start on the job. It was something that I never told my boss about... ;-)

I put here a link to the image with the highest resolution I could find.

IBM Selectric teardown
IBM Selectric teardown

Published on Sat 21st Aug 2021. Featured in KBD #40 (source).


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