Why I Love My IBM Selectric

August 7, 2012 Uncategorized 0

My “new” IBM Selectric arrived last week.

Big, beautiful and sexy red, my fiancée Alan remembered I had always wanted one. Like me, he appreciates the value of retro equipment. He collects pinball machines.

My friends laugh at me, wondering why I would want the heavy industrial-weight machine.

“You can do everything you need on a computer,” my friends laughed, as if I have not been using those for a quarter century already.

The scoffers do not understand that there is no substitute for the IBM Selectric for quickly achieving certain tasks. There are times when I just want to dash out a label, envelope or quick note.

With my Selectric, there is no going through endless windows and inserting something “just right” to produce what I need. Moving a mouse or selecting control “P” doesn’t apply.  Each keystroke is instant.


Sliding the black “on” button forward,
I heard the hum of my red productive beast.


The proprietor from A to Z Typewriter Company brought her in and smiled at my delight.

He understood. The tried-and-true typing machine is in such high demand, he said, that he quit selling all matter of business machines.

There is high demand for good old-fashioned typewriters, he explained. Secretaries do not want to part with them. Schools want them for typing classes.

And there are people like me, who lack the patience to go through windows, give explicit instructions and load labels and envelopes “just right” into often quirky printers.

Sliding the black “on” button forward, I heard the hum of my red productive beast. I excitedly put a piece of paper in the typewriter, snapping the lever firmly into place. Memories of my old typing days flooded my mind. It all came back to me, like getting on a bicycle.

My fingers securely glided into the concave keys, my felt the hum of my red productivity beast. As I typed whatever came to mind, I felt the assuring punch of each keystroke.

In satisfying glee, I typed away and quickly made a typing error. I forgot how to use the backspace correct button! It did work, the gentlemen explained, but not on my computer gloss paper. I would need to purchase good, old-fashioned typewriting paper for it to work perfectly. I laughed knowing that I had typewriter paper saved for this day. But alas, it was packed away in a box somewhere.

Progress does not always mean better. Of course, the computer, with its demanding endless treadmill of upgrades and corresponding nuisances, reigns supreme for most tasks. My Selectric only asks that I keep it clean, dust-free and oiled.

And while surrounded by plastic mother board machines that offer so much more, my Selectric knows its industrial steel strength will outlast the planned obsolesce of its office neighbors. It is a reminder of days long gone when manufacturers employed Americans to pridefully make products to last. Such solidity has been dwarfed by our consumerist economy that exploits workers to make cheap products destined for the landfills that liter the beauty of rural America. We pay a lot for junk, and China laughs all the way to the bank.

I was born to write and will do so until my aged body and mind releases its last word. Like my great-grandmother’s Treadle sewing machine, my Selectric will faithfully be there for generations to come.