See vintage 1960s IBM electric typewriters, including the Selectric with swappable round print heads

IBM Selectric typewriter 1965

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Vintage 1960s IBM electric typewriters, like the Executive and the Selectric, were marketed to help executives — and secretaries — manage an increasing business workload at a time when more and more white collar jobs were being created. Here’s a look back.

Old IBM electric typewriters – The Executive: A tradition of excellence (1965)

This uncompromising dedication is reflected in the IBM executive, a typewriter that gives correspondence the look of fine printing — and creates impressions beyond words.

IBM electric typewriters - A tradition of excellence (1965)

IBM Selectric typewriters: We found a way to speed up the alphabet (1965)

This ingenious little printing element speeds the work you do with the Selectric typewriter. It dances across the paper, typing each character with incredible speed. Faster than the eye can see.

And the single printing element lets you change type styles without changing machines. Just remove one element and click another into place. More than a dozen typefaces add versatility to productivity.

Vintage IBM electric typewriters - Selectric from 1965

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In just 5 seconds, this typewriter can give you a different personality (1966)

That’s the beauty of the IBM Selectric typewriter. The single printing element lets you change type styles without changing typewriters.

Use one style for business letters. Switch to another for billing. Another for office memos and bulletins.

You’ll find several distinctive type faces to choose from (even special styles with scientific or mathematical symbols).

With the IBM Selectric, you can change type styles whenever you please, and in just five seconds.

Someday all typewriters will work like this. But why wait?

IBM Selectric typewriter from 1966

The cost of secretaries & vintage IBM electric typewriters: “That American forget how to write” (1967)

What’s going on in American business today is ironic. If not catastrophic.

The man who is hired to work with his hands in a factory has plenty of time to think, because he is given automated tools to work with.

Yet the man who is hired to work with his mind in an office has very little time to think, because he is given manual tools to work with.

A pencil, a typewriter and, if he’s lucky, a secretary to help him.

They aren’t enough. American business is in the throes of a paperwork explosion. It’s so real your eyeballs should be spinning at what it’s costing you.

The profit squeeze

In 1953, it cost $1.17 to get a business letter from one businessman’s head to another businessman’s hands. Today it costs $2.49.

112.8% more. Per letter.

In 1955, a secretary to handle these communications cost $4,539 in salary and overhead. Today it’s $6,396. At that rate, in 1975, she’ll cost $9,018.

That’s right. $9,018.

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The productivity squeeze

Secretaries today are producing usable words at basically the same rate secretaries were producing them 20 years ago.

To put it another way. In 1975, you will be paying 1975 salaries for 1945 productivity.

The people squeeze

Between 1960 and 1965, the number of professional, technical and managerial people creating paperwork increased 22% over the number of people to do it.

By 1975, this gap will have grown to 57%.

It is actually going to reach a point where no matter how much you’re willing to pay in overtime. or for part-time help, and no matter how much you’re willing to lower your standards, you’re not going to get the work out.

We are running out of people to process paper.

Chaos around the corner?

Not quite. Right today, one man using IBM dictation equipment can get four times as much thinking recorded as he can by writing it down with a pencil, and very nearly twice as much as he can by dictating to a highly-skilled secretary. Without tying up the secretary’s time while he’s doing it.

And with the IBM MT/ST (a rather remarkable automatic typewriter that takes a secretary’s rough draft and types it back error-free at the rather remarkable rate of a page every two minutes), a secretary can get those thoughts out the door in final form, including your revisions, in half the time.

Used systematically throughout an office, these two pieces of IBM equipment alone have increased people’s productivity by 50%.

Which means that at a time when paperwork is increasing faster than the number of people to do it, a company can handle the increase with the people who are available.

And still be able to give the people who were hired to work with their minds more time to work with their minds.

Call, don’t write (not at $2.49 a letter!) your IBM Office Products Division Representative. He’s ready to come in and talk in detail about your particular problems. And opportunities.

Machines should work. People should think.

IBM MT/ST, desktop and cordless dictation units, Selectric typewriter 1967

These vintage IBM electric typewriters rocked the business scene in the '50s

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