Play media Slow-motion video of whiffletree linkage in Selectric mechanism Mechanically, the Selectric borrowed some design elements from a toy typewriter produced earlier by Marx Toys. IBM bought the rights to the design. The motor at the back of the machine drives a belt connected to a two-part shaft located roughly halfway through the machine.
The cycle shaft on the left side powers the tilt and rotate mechanism. The operational shaft on the right side powers functions such as spacing, backspacing, and case shifting, as well as serving as a governor, limiting the left-to-right speed with which the carrier moves. A series of spring clutches power the cams which provide the motion needed to perform functions such as backspacing. When the typist presses a key, a pawl on the key lever depresses a matching metal bar interposer for that key.
The interposer, which is oriented front to back in the machine, has one or more short projections lugs protruding from its bottom edge. Each interposer has a unique combination of lugs, corresponding to the binary code for the desired character. Each interposer also has a tab that slots in between loose steel balls in a race, the size of balls and race selected precisely to leave a total gap barely larger than the width of the interposer tab, such that only one interposer tab can fit in the free space and thus only one letter can be selected at a time.
When the interposer moves, each of its lugs engages one of a set of bars selector bails that run from left to right across the keyboard mechanism. In a machine with a North American keyboard, there are five "negative logic" selector bails two for tilt and three for rotation , and one "positive logic" bail called "minus five" for accessing characters in the opposite direction of rotation.
The latches pulled away in this manner are disengaged for the rest of the cycle, while the remaining latches take part in character selection, hence the term "negative logic".
The minus five selector bail pulls an interposer and link which causes a latch to disengage from a cam, allowing it to move an additional input into the whiffletree that subtracts five units of rotation from any negative logic inputs.
An additional "low velocity" selector latch is also engaged by certain keys, such as '. The selector latches that remain engaged with the latch bail cause cams on the drive shaft which is rotating to move the ends of the links in the whiffletree linkage, which sums adds together the amounts "weights" of movement corresponding to the selected bits.
The sum of the weighted inputs is the required movement of the typing element. There are two sets of similar mechanisms, one for tilt, one for rotate. The typing element has four rows of 22 characters. By tilting and rotating the element to the location of a character, the element can be thrust against the ribbon and platen, leaving an imprint of the chosen character.
Tilt and rotate movements are transferred to the carrier the mechanism that supports the element , which moves across the page, by two taut metal tapes, one for tilt and one for rotate.
The tilt and rotate tapes are both anchored to the right side of the carrier. They both wrap around separate pulleys at the right side of the frame; the tilt pulley is fixed, while the rotate pulley is attached to the shift arm, actuated by the Shift and Caps Lock keys. The tilt tape is then anchored to a small, quarter-circle pulley which, through a link, tips the tilt ring the device to which the element is connected to one of four possible locations.
The rotate tape is wrapped around a spring-loaded pulley located in the middle of the carrier. The rotate pulley under the tilt ring is connected through a universal joint called a "dog bone", which it resembles to the center of the tilt ring. The element is spring-latched onto that central post. The element rotates counter-clockwise when the rotate tape is tightened. The spiral "clock" spring underneath the rotate pulley rotates the element in the clockwise direction.
As the carrier moves across the page such as when it returns , the tapes travel over their pulleys, but the spring-loaded pulleys on the ball carrier do not pivot or rotate. To position the ball, both of the pulleys on the left side of the frame are moved by their whiffletree linkages, actuated by the selected drive shaft cams.
When the rotate pulley is moved to the right or left, the rotate tape spins the element to the appropriate location. When the tilt pulley is moved, it tips the tilt ring to the appropriate location. When it moves, the tape rotates the spring-loaded pulley on the ball carrier independent of the carrier's location on the page.
Case is shifted from lowercase to uppercase and associated shifted punctuation symbols by rotating the element by exactly half a turn. After a character is struck onto the paper, the mechanism is reset, including replacing all latches on their bails and moving the interposer back into position. If the key that was pressed is still down at this time, the interposer rotates the keylever pawl out of the way to prevent key repeat until the key is released and depressed again, starting the next cycle.
Repair was fairly expensive, so maintenance contracts were an easy sell. Both Selectric and the later Selectric II were available in standard-, medium-, and wide-carriage models and in various colors, including red and blue, as well as traditional neutral colors. Ribbons[ edit ] In addition to the "typeball" technology, Selectrics were associated with several innovations in ink ribbon design. The original Selectric had to be ordered to use either cloth reusable ribbon or one-time carbon film ribbon; the same machine could not use both.
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