In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the search for a suitable name for the latest and most innovative electronic typewriter inevitably led manufacturers to opt for a name that well and truly associated their product with high-tech.

Hence a plethora of -tronic, -onic, and -tron name endings, Early examples were the Smith Corona “Typetronic” (October 1980), the “Facitronic” (AKA Facit 8000, March 1982), and a series of “Remtronic” electronic typewriters (also 1982) manufactured by a South American spin-off of Remington Rand USA (Remington Industria e Comercio de Sistemas Para Escritorio s.a.).

From the early-to-mid 1980s, Hermes Precisa released various models of “Top-tronic”, initially manufactured in-house, and then manufactured on an OEM basis by the likes of Nakajima, Robotron, Triumph-Adler and Olivetti.

Brother preferred to name their typewriters using a two-letter prefix and number, EM-1000, AX-450, etc., but did release several models of “Compactronic”, “Correctronic” and “Executron” in the USA – early examples being a pair of moveable-carriage daisy wheel typewriters: the “Compactronic” 8300 and the “Executron” 9300.

Like Brother, Silver Reed generally preferred a two letter prefix and number naming convention (EX-44, EZ-20, etc,), but did release an “Editronic” thermal mini-wedge (circa 1984).

AEG Olympia went the literal route, selling its Japanese-made “Electronic Compact” as early as November 1982. This was followed by the release of a “Report Electronic” in 1985.

Odd to think IBM didn’t register “Selectronic” as a trademark. Silver Reed America used the name at least once. In the absence of other ads like this one from the Uklah Daily News (California) in April 1980, it’s likely they were asked to desist from using the name …

The only other instance I could find was this “Selectronic” typo

… plus a 1988 ad for a “Selectronics” WORDFINDER …

If IBM had released a range of “Selectronic” typewriters, at least their customers would have known what they were getting – namely a re-hashed Selectric typewriter with built-in and/or add-on electronic components.

Competitors at the time, took every opportunity to point out the difference between their “totally electronic” or “all-electronic” typewriters and IBM’s mechatronic frankentypers.

The distinction was not lost on IBM themselves …

… who were keen to retain their customer base JUST LONG ENOUGH to switch them over to their Personal Computers.

Not all typists who made the switch were happy about it …

2 thoughts on “‘Tronics

  1. Yeah, in all other ads this typewriter was simply referred to as the “Silver-Reed Self-Correcting Electronic”. I think when they say “typing elements and ribbons are interchangeable with IBM” those typing elements and ribbons *are* IBM typing elements and ribbons. 😉


  2. Huh, the Selectronic ad pictorially suggests that the Silver-Reed machine was an electronic golfball machine rather than a daisywheel. I even dare to imagine that it claims that a Selectric II element will work in the Selectronic, or at least it doesn’t disclaim it. Now I very much want to see one…


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