IBM MagCard I & II Selectric Typewriters
IBM MagCard I Selectric Typewriter
First, the IBM Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter (MT/ST) was introduced by IBM's Office Products Division in 1964. This was augmented by the release of the Magnetic Card Selectric Typewriter (MC/ST) in October, 1969. The $10,000 MT/ST was believed more suitable for heavy data base merging operations, while the MC/ST was more appropriate for correspondence and memo writing.
The MagCard, at $7,000 was instantly successful and spawned the Communicating Magnetic Card Selectric Typewriter in July, 1971. Unfortunately, the CMC/ST used "Kentucky Code" which was incompatible with ASCII and found only limited acceptance.
In 1972 IBM Introduced the MagCard Executive Typewriter (MC/ET), whose printer could output proportional text instead of monospace as the other MagCards were limited to.
The IBM MagCard II Selectric unit (very dusty). The original MC/ST looks nearly identical.
IBM MagCard II Selectric Typewriter
In April, 1973, the even more successful $11,000 MagCard II was introduced with 8,000 character memory, corrections capability and a card reader able to handle a pack of 50 magnetic cards. A communicating version was also offered. A proposed video display upgrade was rejected in favour of the "Rio" project which resulted in the Office System/6 introduced in January, 1977.
Although IBM had created the Word Processing concept at its Waco, Texas office in 1964, by the end of the 1970's it had yielded leadership to Lexitron (1970), Vydec (1974) and Wang (1975). The Displaywriter released in June, 1980 was one of the last projects completed before the Division was disbanded at the end of 1981.
Unfortunately very few of these machines are known to survive today. One of the leading theories for why asserts that due to their tremendous price tags, most offices only rented them. When the lease was up, or the office switched to a different technology, IBM retrieved the highly specialized and obsolete MagCard machines and scrapped them.
Surviving MagCards (and MagTapes) today are usually only around because they got lucky. Perhaps the business using it bought it outright, or it was repossessed and sold at auction if the business defaulted, or someone at IBM simply thought it was neat and kept it during a regional office cleanout. Whatever the case, few are still out there and even fewer still work.
See the Restoration page linked up above for more mechanical details and progress of the Museum's restoration of its MC/ST I.
The MagCard II's card cabinet (also very dusty).