Meaning – The term golf ball, refers to the removable typing component found within the IBM Selectric Typewriter.
The IBM Selectric typewriter was a highly successful line of electric typewriters introduced by IBM on 31 July 1961.
Instead of the “basket” of individual typebars that swing up to strike the ribbon and page in a typical typewriter of the period, the Selectric had an “element” (frequently called a “typeball”, or less formally, a “golf ball”) that rotated and pivoted to the correct position before striking.
Selectrics and their descendants eventually captured 75 percent of the United States market for electric typewriters used in business. IBM replaced the Selectric line with the IBM Wheelwriter in 1984 and transferred its typewriter business to the newly formed Lexmark in 1991. By the Selectric’s 25th anniversary, in 1986, a total of more than 13 million machines had been made and sold.
Example of usage – “He had a vintage IBM Selectric typewriter in his possession and in order to restore it, he needed a spare golf ball.”