[tnmoc] Introducing the IBM Selectric 1053 Console Printer

I have a project to restore a 1960s IBM Selectric 1053 console printer from an IBM 1130 at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).  I got the gig because I was the first person with relevant experience to turn up in over a year since they’d started work on the 1130.  I was an IBM OP CE on Selectric typewriters in the mid-80s and most of the mechanism is identical.  The only difference is that the machine is activated by solenoids rather than a keyboard full of levers.

So if you’ve come here looking for Selectric typewriter information, you will probably find some here as time progresses.  At the moment all I’ve got to say is if you have found the YouTube video recommending you lubricate all over your typewriter with an unspecified oil, don’t. By the time I worked on Selectrics the original patents had expired and there were a lot of clones on the market.  The opinion of myself and all my colleagues was that the reason these all seemed to have a shorter service life was the use of inferior lubricants. If you dig on the Internet you will find a PDF giving the specifications of the recommended stuff.  TNMOC fed these to a specialist. We were sold Hydraulic Oil ISO 100 as a replacement for IBM #10 oil and Mobilgrease 28, an aircraft grease, as a replacement for the IBM #23 grease. As you can tell these are not household or even auto supplies.  Get the right stuff.

Being a Selectric the 1053 is a golf ball printer, that means it has a single almost spherical type head which rotates and tilts according to some levers just before it bashes into the paper for that genuine early computing lots of noise effect.  It is the console printer from the 1130 computer, this means it was the primary means of output.  No convenient palm sized mega-pixels here.  When this was in use electronic screens were not the norm in computing.  Good old black on real paper was the display.  Well, the original printer ribbon was two colour so black and red on white or more commonly green paper ,

With only being able to do little bits at it since Christmas because of real life™ issues to do with my disability today’s job was to come up with a revised plan.  I have it as five sub projects:

  1. Finish the 1131 side of the Arduino sketch for the test device we’re building
  2. Renovate the carriage
  3. Renovate the op shaft (operational shaft in the 60s manuals) side of the guts
  4. Write the 1053 side of the Arduino sketch
  5. Renovate the cycle clutch side of the machine, and then put it through some exercises with the product of 4.

I’ve roughed out 2 weeks (28 hours) for each step, which will give me a finish date of 5th May 2013.  Of course it’s only a plan made more for the fact that if you don’t have one Parkinson’s Law sets in and no deadline is an infinite amount of allowed time.   I have a hard limit of 14 hours a week, which with my disability is a serious push in any event.

[edited – corrected those pesky IBM machine numbers]

2 thoughts on “[tnmoc] Introducing the IBM Selectric 1053 Console Printer”

  1. Awesome project. I’ve been wondering about using a seletric typeball device to connect to a PC as an output device. Is a 1053 my only choice?

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