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IBM Selectric II Typewriter


This is an electric typewriter, in green, with a brown faux-leather cover. The typewriter has a standard QWERTY keyboard, with a power switch to the right and a tab switch to the left. Above this, there is a graduated scale with two metal adjusters for setting margin sizes. Above this is an opening through which rollers and other apparatus, including a golf ball-sized metal ball (a typeball) with letters and various symbols on it, is visible. Stuck directly in front of the rollers there is a mnemonic picture showing the image of a keyboard that includes mathematical symbols.

On the right hand side of the typewriter there is a large knurled knob. Near this there are three large switches emerging from rectangular holes in the top of the case.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.114 (DAA-0104)

Alternative Name: Electric Typewriter

Primary Materials: Metal: Iron Alloy, Plastic, Fabric


On a laminated paper label that appears to have once been stuck to the object: “SERIAL NUMBER: 4329477
INSTALLATION DATE: 07/06/76” [This label also indicates instances of repair and that the typewriter is “Customer Owned”]

Two inset labels: “IBM”

On the top of the typeball: “IBM

Inside the mechanism: “IBM PATENTED IN CANADA
1957, 1960, 1962-1971 Inclusive
Manufactured by
IBM Canada Ltd IBM Canada Ltee Don Mills Canada”

Dimensions (cm):

Length = 50.6, Width = 36, Height = 18.1


This is an electronic typewriter enabling the creation of typed documents of various sizes. Instead of typebars that rise up to strike the paper, this typewriter has a typeball that rotates to the correct orientation before striking the paper. This enabled the easy changing of the ball to different characters and fonts.


Excellent: The surface and components of the typewriter are in excellent condition, with very little signs of use or wear. The graduated scale across the top of the keyboard is rusting underneath and is peeling away from the surface onto which it was affixed; there is some localised rust damage around this area.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: IBM Canada

Date of Manufacture: 1976


According to its repair record, this object was used at the David Dunlap Observatory at least between 1976 and 1979. Following its use, it was stored there. This object was moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2009, upon the sale of the observatory. It was stored at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics until 2017, when it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: