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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

What's Odd About This IBM Selectric Typewriter?

Yes, that's right, it's the (almost) finished product of Peter Brill's brilliant work on converting an IBM Selectric to a Blickensderfer keyboard configuration. There's still some cleaning up of the casing to do yet.
Images of work in progress have been posted earlier on this blog.
Before this unusual typewriter goes on display in my two-month Typewriter Exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery in mid-July, I'd like to have a catchy name for it.
A Blicktric?
A SelecBlick?
An IBlick? EBlick?
International Blickensderfer Machine (IBM, Peter's pick)?
Any thoughts? Please let me know.
Entry 1, from Michael Clemens: Blicklectric
                               Frankenstein's Typewriter
                               (I'm warming to it)    
Entry 2, from Richard Polt: Golfensderfer (definitely my favourite so far)
Entry 3: from Scott K: ScIBM (Scientific keyboard, get it?)

PS: Since IBM stole the golfball from the Blick, it seems only fair it should also take the keyboard too!
PPS: Peter's next big project will be to turn an IBM Selectric II's typing action into slow motion, so that people can see how it happens. To do this, he has removed everything except the tilt, rotate and print mechanism. A small stepping motor will turn the machine over slowly, so one can see the mechanism involved in the character selection process. He recently acquired from his brother an old scanner drive motor from a Nashua 220 photocopier from 1974, which has a reduction gearbox.



Michael Clemens said...

This is even more mad-scientist than Richard Polt's "Twolympia" project.

I like "Blicklectric" myself. Or maybe "Frankenstein's Monster." :-)

Robert Messenger said...

Thanks Michael, I'll add it in.

Richard P said...


Whatever it is, I am in awe of Peter's skills!

Scott K said...

That's the 'Scientific' keyboard arrangement isn't it?

I'm placing ScIBM (Sci-B-M) on the table as my 2 seconds of throught.

But magnificent work all in all! And with the exception of that odd bird-poo looking staind on this thing, WOW! How amazing has it come up!

Scott K said...

Could someone please remove some of my over used "!" in that last posting.

And also, could I point out how much this thing looks like a cross between K-9 and a Cylon.

Robert Messenger said...

Hi Scott. Yes, Scientific it is. Peter is cleaning it up as we speak. He says someone must been painting near it and not used a dropsheet! And don't worry about the shrieks, I overuse them myself.
Hey Richard, Golfensderfer is my favourite so far. I'm warming to Frankenstein's Typewriter, too - might get some people in with that one.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Does anyone know what that solvent bath is? I thought that most solvents melt plastics (keys, etc)

Mirabel said...


It is fascinating to see a Selectric modified to a different key layout, especially since the re-arrangement of a typebar machine's typeslugs would require a healthy dose of skill, specialised tools, and a great deal of patience to align them properly. Conversion to the Dvorak Simplified key layout is offered by one Selectric repair shop located in the United States (Oregon), but the price rivals that of a refurbished Selectric. I have seen posts online by owners claiming that they have successfully converted their Selectrics to Dvorak themselves. Do tutorials, manuals, audiovisuals, or other publicly available information exist to guide those of us considering undertaking such a project?


don said...


I am looking for a person who converts IBM Selectrics into
the Dvorak layout.
Do you know of anyone?
Please let me know.