IBM Correcting Selectric II

The ultimate typing machine.

by Andrew Watters


I found a "compact" correcting Selectric II typewriter at an electronics store in 2012 for $45 (lol). I went ahead and bought it, and I used it for typing envelopes and miscellaneous notes over the next several years. There was nothing quite like typing an envelope in the IBM Old English font; I'm sure people who received those from me noticed. The machine eventually broke and stopped typing halfway across the page, and it would also get stuck in correcting mode. I left it on a bookshelf as an antique and thought nothing of it for a few years. Then I came across Los Altos Business Machines in early 2019, which seems to be the only typewriter repair shop within a 30 mile radius. I visited and let me just say: wow, I have never seen so many typewriters in one place. I knew I had found the right provider to overhaul my Selectric II. I took the opportunity to pick up a new-to-me full-size correcting Selectric II with a blue case. This thing is fantastic, and the review focuses on this newly acquired unit because I gave the compact model to a colleague.

Made in USA

This is the only decent electric typewriter you can still buy that is Made in USA.

How Does It Type?

The key action is a little vague because this was well before IBM invented the buckling spring keyboard. So there is no feedback on the keys except for the obvious: the ball hitting the page. The sound is loud, and it makes a bold statement. I have to close my office door to use it because the sound is audible throughout the office.


This thing looks great on the stand I built for it. It's a very pleasant medium blue.

The Few Drawbacks

The Courier typing element (the golf ball-shaped metal piece with all the characters on it) can be had with brackets ([ ]) instead of the "1" number key. This appears to be the most common configuration. It is seriously annoying because you have to remember to type a lower case "L" to get a "1" every time you need a 1. And I never need brackets when typing envelopes or notes, so I may end up ordering a new typing element just to get a normal "1" in the usual position.

Big Blue Gets It Right

This typewriter is a relic of a prior age, when office machines were made primarily for the business user instead of the consumer. The Selectric II so far surpasses the cheap plastic typewriters of more recent times that it should be embarrassing for other manufacturers.

Sourcing your Selectric II

The owner of Los Altos Business Machines (John) is a serious collector and he occasionally has refurbished Selectric II's for sale.


February 15, 2019