Good news: Searching on the French boule rather than the German kugelkopf, reaped the reward of my fifth interchangeable spherical print element or “golf ball”…
The Fifth Element
For some reason, getting my hands on a T-A Royal “golf ball” proved just as difficult as finding one of these …
The Fourth Element
This idiosyncratic fourth element has been much sought after but I now have four. In the first instance, searching on the Italian testina sfera (“ball head”) came up trumps.
The golf balls Olivetti made for their portable (but still quite hefty) Lexikon electric typewriters are also scarce. I had to buy a non-working Lexikon 82 in order to get my hands on my third element …
The Third Element
Easier to come by, at least for me, was this one …
The Second Element
Brother, Silver Reed, and Juki were alone among the Japanese manufacturers, I think, in adapting IBM’s “golf ball” technology as an alternative to the daisy wheel.
NEC and Panasonic dabbled briefly with print thimbles, and IBM were happy to deny the daisy wheel electronic typewriter its existence (for several years, despite developing their own daisy wheel printers as early as 1977), clinging onto their Selectrics for as long as was humanly possible (and profitable).
The First Element
This first element is, of course, the one that started the ball rolling (pun intended). Not counting the drums and cylinders used on early index typewriters and teletype machines, the IBM Selectric golf ball is the first in chronological order. The order in which subsequent others came onto the market goes something like this:
- 1961—IBM Selectric and Selectric “clone” compatible
- 1974—Olivetti Lexikon 82/83DL & Smith Corona Vantage/Intrepid compatible
- 1975—Triumph Adler/Royal SE 1000/5000 series compatible ¹
- 1976—Olivetti Lexikon 90/92/92C/94C series compatible
- 1981—Brother Super 7300/7800/7900/ & Selecta 7500/7600 series compatible
“When the five elements are perfectly aligned, electric typewriters will return to rule the world!”
The “elements” I don’t yet have in my collection are IBM’s first generation and second generation golf balls.
11 thoughts on “The Fifth Element”
Not as common as IBM balls, so yes, fairly hard to find, but they still crop up online now and again.
My local junk shop has a SE1000 without a typeball. They only want $5 for it, and it ‘probably don’t work at all’, and I can;t test it ‘cos’ someone cut the cord after it failed an electrical test. For $5, if it had a ball I’d be prepared to have a go at fixing it, but are balls hard to find?
I would like to see a photograph of that unusual element! Also, I have used a Remington element on my Selectric II, so I can confirm that they are compatible.
I forgot the most Selectric-like of the Selectric clones: The Silver-Reed 225 C (post edited accordingly)
unknown if they are the same – I’ve seen ads that imply the Facit/Juki/Rem and IBM balls were the same, but have not heard anyone directly confirm that they are compatible.
… and were the balls used by Facit/Remington/Juki Selectric clones the same as IBM’s Selectric balls or slightly different?
I’m not surprised there are more. There were so many (short-lived) electronic writing systems being developed in the mid Seventies, some of which would have had golf balls. The truth will out … 😉
There are more.. I have one that is *not* for Selectrics (doesn’t fit any of mine 1,2 or 3) and doesn’t look like any I’ve seen.
Markings: 296-46 (stock number under lever), and “pc 10 12” (on plastic cap).
Looks like a pretty neat condensed sans-serif typeface, but I have no idea what machine it goes to..
Interesting. I only thought IBM made ball elements.
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