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Mr.Amiga500
May 31st, 2008, 07:03 AM
I know the IBM Modem M is widely considered the best keyboard ever made. I've tried one and it is very nice. I'm wondering if there were other keyboards from that era or earlier that were even better, but nobody talks about them because they were on an obscure computer or terminal that wasn't popular. Hopefully somebody here has experience with the old and unusual computers and terminals of the 1970s and early 1980s. (I know there were lots of old crap keyboards too)

In my (very limited) experience so far, it seems the order goes something like this (ignoring crap keyboards):

buckling spring - IBM Model M (and variations)
Alps switch - SGI (and others)
Cherry switch - Amiga 1000
Mitsumi - Amiga 3000 (used to type this), Atari 1200XL

I'm especially interested in the old keyboards with keys made out of thick shiny plastic (usually black or brown like the Atari 1200XL). Was there an old keyboard with the IBM Model M feel - or better - but with thick high-quality plastic keys? (did any have metal keys??)

Trixter
May 31st, 2008, 08:25 AM
The only keyboard I've ever used that was nicer than a buckling-spring model was split in half and put at the ends of two arms of an ergonomic chair, similar to this: http://www-ksl.stanford.edu/people/kpfleger/ergo/

Granted, the chair I tested was $1200 (in 1993!) but boy was it amazing. You just sit down and the data flows from your fingers.

Mr.Amiga500
May 31st, 2008, 09:05 AM
Granted, the chair I tested was $1200 (in 1993!) but boy was it amazing. You just sit down and the data flows from your fingers.

That's interesting, but reaching for the mouse would probably be tedious - unless it had a built in trackball! Ooh... the ultimate would be a split buckling spring keyboard with thick 1970's style plastic keys (colour coded) and a built-in large trackball - on a comfortable firm leather chair. With a setup like that, you could sit back and control the universe. (...with a sly, sinister look on your face, you rub your hands and cackle with delight at your devious plans...:twisted:)

willowmoon93
May 31st, 2008, 09:50 AM
What?!?? No love for the keyboard of the Sinclair ZX-81 (T/S 1000) ???? ;)

vwestlife
May 31st, 2008, 02:20 PM
buckling spring - IBM Model M (and variations)
The Model M was actually not the best from IBM. It had a buckling-spring mechanism on top of rubber-dome key switches. The older 83-key XT and 84-key AT keyboards used a buckling-spring mechanism on top of capacitive keyswitches. This gives a much more crisp and responsive feel.

There are five different main ways to design a keyboard, and they all had their own distinct feel:

Capacitive keyswitch: TRS-80, Tandy 1000/2000, classic Macintosh, Atari 1200XL, and many others in the '80s. Because the contact is done electrically, not mechanically, there is no "snap" to the key feel. Some sound extremely "clunky" (TRS-80, early Macintosh) due to mechanical reverberation of the whole keyboard unit. The stiffness of the springs varied widely; some were very light (early Tandy 1000), giving a harsh feeling of "banging away on a board." Others attempted to soften the feel by putting sponge below the keys, giving an expectedly spongey feel.

Capacitive keyswitch with buckling spring: vintage IBM, up through the 84-key AT keyboard. Extremely crisp tactile feel, loud and clickly but also light to the touch. Tough as a Sherman tank, precise as a Swiss watch. :)

Rubber dome keyswitch: became extremely common '90s PC clones, now virtually universal on desktop keyboards. The rubber dome collapses when you hit it and then pops back up when you release the key, giving the infamous "mushy" feel.

Rubber dome keyswitch with buckling spring: IBM/Lexmark 101-key Model M, plus some relabeled OEM versions (such as early '90s Dell). Clicky and tactile, but also heavy on the fingers, due to the added force needed to collapse the rubber dome.

Mechanical keyswitch: many '80s PC clones, Northgate & ALPS keyboards, etc. "Snappy" but also a bit heavy to the touch. The same design as a mechanical leaf switch, used as PC case reset buttons, refrigerator door light switches, and all sorts of other uses.

This is my IBM AT keyboard. I use with a Compaq PIII-866. :)

http://i3.tinypic.com/116klzl.jpg

Vlad
May 31st, 2008, 02:34 PM
It had a buckling-spring mechanism on top of rubber-dome key switches. lol wut? Are you sure about that? I could have sworn the Model M was entirely mechanical. Mike! Little help? :p

Mr.Amiga500
May 31st, 2008, 02:39 PM
@vwestlife

Thanks for the interesting detailed post. :) I think your keyboard is the one I actually tested, not the Model M. So I guess that's the one I should be looking for. What if you need F11 or F12 though?

I suppose the fact that your keyboard is diesel makes it louder than if it was a gasoline powered keyboard. :D

Erik
May 31st, 2008, 03:23 PM
lol wut? Are you sure about that? I could have sworn the Model M was entirely mechanical. Mike! Little help? :p

Every Model M I've ever seen (and I've owned dozens) has been a pure buckling spring design. Not a rubber dome in the lot. . .

vwestlife
May 31st, 2008, 05:59 PM
Every Model M I've ever seen (and I've owned dozens) has been a pure buckling spring design. Not a rubber dome in the lot. . .
There is a definite difference in feel between it and the older XT/AT keyboards, though.

Even IBM typewriters had a change in keyboard feel when they apparently switched from the XT/AT-type design to the Model M-type design sometime in the mid- to late '80s.

Erik
May 31st, 2008, 06:04 PM
There is a definite difference in feel between it and the older XT/AT keyboards, though.

If there is it's fairly slight. I've been using IBM PC keyboards from 1981 forward and have numerous examples in my collection. Aside from some basics (keyboard layout, mostly) the overall feel is pretty much the same for all of them.

If anything the Model M keyboards have a slightly lighter touch.

closetofmysteries
May 31st, 2008, 06:31 PM
I learned to type on a manual typewriter (because we couldn't afford a computer when I was 10... I'd type my basic programs in at home to run on the Atari 800 at school!) so I've always appreciated a keyboard with a distinct throw.

I spent about 6 years on an Apple //e keyboard, where I honed my typing. But when I got to university, I found what for me was the best keyboard ever: the Sun 3/60. Just something about how much force it took to bang on that keyboard made me a much more productive typist.

Oh, and the control key was in the right place, of course! Perfect for emacs.

I went to work for Sun for a few years after that - they had just come out with the Sun4 keyboards, that had a shift lock (like most "modern" keyboards) but at least they did have a "unix localization" you could order to get the control key back in the right place.

A few years ago, I found the "Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite II" which I got for all my home and office machines. Its compact, but has a really good throw and feel. But for christmas, my wife bought me a "Das Keyboard II" - its all black with mechanical switches, and I'm typing like a maniac on it. Very nice keyboard, although it drives the people down the hall mad when I'm working...

Cheers,
--sma

Floppies_only
May 31st, 2008, 06:34 PM
I know the IBM Modem M is widely considered the best keyboard ever made. I've tried one and it is very nice. I'm wondering if there were other keyboards from that era or earlier that were even better, but nobody talks about them because they were on an obscure computer or terminal that wasn't popular.

The keyboard that I like the best is for Macintoshes with ADB connectors, i.e.: 68k machines like the SE or Classic. It is called the power user 105. I have two of these. The one that I like has the lightest touch I've ever felt on a keyboard. The keys give an audible click to indicate funtion.

But the bad thing about this keyboard is that I make a lot of mistakes when I type with it. I wish I knew why, or how to not do that. It would be a joy to compose with otherwise.

Sean

vwestlife
May 31st, 2008, 06:44 PM
If there is it's fairly slight. I've been using IBM PC keyboards from 1981 forward and have numerous examples in my collection. Aside from some basics (keyboard layout, mostly) the overall feel is pretty much the same for all of them.

If anything the Model M keyboards have a slightly lighter touch.
OK, I had the right idea but I got the specifics wrong. The older XT/AT keyboards do indeed use a buckling spring mechanism on top of a capacitance contact switch. The 101-key Model M uses a buckling spring mechanism on top of a rubber membrane sheet switch, not a rubber dome switch. The rubber membrane in the Model M slightly muffles the metallic clacking of the springs and gives the keys a bit of "give" to the touch.

This web page has detailed cutaway photos of exactly what makes a Model M keyboard tick, and also briefly explains the difference between it and the older XT/AT keyboards:
http://park16.wakwak.com/~ex4/kb/tech_bucklingspring_e.htm

http://park16.wakwak.com/~ex4/kb/tech/bucklingspring_mov.gif

Mr.Amiga500
May 31st, 2008, 08:30 PM
@closetofmysteries

The Sun 3/60 keyboard looks interesting. Was it "clicky" like the IBMs or did it have Alps or Cherry switches?

@Floppies_only

The "Power User 105" causes you to type inaccurately? Is it the layout or is the touch so light that you accidentally depress keys? I like "light" touch (like the Amiga 1000), but I don't like "loose". If the "Power User 105" is like the Amiga 1000 keyboard, but "clicky", I'd probably love it. (I still want that 70's thick dark plastic though)


As for the "rubber vs. spring", there are cases where rubber is actually better. On Amiga keyboards, the spring ones (A500, A4000) are too stiff and increase in upward pressure the more you press (not buckling spring, but sprung keys). Other Amiga keyboards (A3000 and I think A1000, A2000) use a "rubber cup" in place of the spring and keypresses require much less pressure. Keys still have individual switches and it's not "rubber dome". (the Amiga spring keyboards also use membrane instead of PCB)

Yzzerdd
June 1st, 2008, 06:54 AM
I think it's about that time for me to toss in my $0.02.

I understand where Floppies_only is coming from about how the P.U. 105 slows him down. I've never used one, but the concept is still the same for me. When I change between keyboards (school's Acers, Dad's Gateway, My iMac, my vintage machines, etc) there are minute differences that throw me off to the point that I am hitting wrong keys. Just a few seconds of focus and I am good again. Sometimes, I have to scoot my keyboard to the left or right to get myself into the correct position. It is the minute changes that change everything.

I personally prefer the PC/XT and PC/AT keyboards over all. I've never used a PC/AT keyboard, but own an original keyboard used on the PC. I love the clickyness of it. I personally get the highest WPM on an old IBM PC keyboard. Granted, it makes people all angry when I get into a long typing session on my IBM.

When I move, I'd like to get my hands on a PC/AT keyboard. I'd like to get my hands on a different Y2K Compaq that is slightly faster as well to go along with they keyboard. Well, my "to buy" list is a long one, and is totally halted by the move.

--Ryan

P.S. PC/XT= Personal Computer eXtended just as PC/AT= Personal Computer Advanced Technology. Seems that is what it says on the sticker, I use "PC/XT" and "PC/AT" to describe them. I am not saying "PC and XT" or "PC and AT." Keep it in mind, probably the last time I'll slip this note in a message.

Vlad
June 1st, 2008, 08:11 AM
I've logged my fastest typing times on a Model M, but for some strange reason I kinda like laptop keyboards. The only thing I hate is when they change the layout. Like move the page up and down keys and the Home End keys somewhere else. As someone who writes a lot, that really gets annoying fast when editing.

Jorg
June 1st, 2008, 08:20 AM
I am a big Model M fan (I type this on a 1993 model that is with me for 15 yrs now).
Before I had an older one, now being used at one of my vintage pc's, as it has the DIN connector.

The only other keyboard that at least stood out from the rest was the one from an HP Vectra 286/12, that I used around the end of the 80's.
Totally different, but also nice, although I prefer the model M by far.

http://www.hpmuseum.net/image.php?file=119

Anonymous Coward
June 1st, 2008, 08:21 AM
Do all of the model M keyboards use the rubber dome? I heard that the earlier model M keyboards and the later model M keyboards are completely different, and I can confirm this since I own both late 80's model M and early-mid 90's model M. I've taken apart both XT-83 keyboards and early model Ms on many occasions and they both seem to use capacitive keyswitch with buckling spring. I never saw any rubber domes in there...it's been a while though, maybe my memory is bad.

vwestlife
June 1st, 2008, 09:28 AM
Do all of the model M keyboards use the rubber dome? I heard that the earlier model M keyboards and the later model M keyboards are completely different, and I can confirm this since I own both late 80's model M and early-mid 90's model M. I've taken apart both XT-83 keyboards and early model Ms on many occasions and they both seem to use capacitive keyswitch with buckling spring. I never saw any rubber domes in there...it's been a while though, maybe my memory is bad.
Read my correction above. ;) The Model M uses a rubber membrane sheet; the XT/AT keyboards use capacitive contact.

Push and hold a key down on the Model M, then try to push it down with more force -- you can feel the rubber squish a little. Do the same thing on an XT/AT keyboard and there is no squish because there is no rubber down there. :)

Mr.Amiga500
June 26th, 2008, 05:01 PM
I just got a clicky 1986 IBM Model M and an even clickier IBM AT keyboard. I must admit I'm a little disappointed. I thought an IBM clicky keyboard was "the mother of all keyboards". It is clicky and that's good I suppose, but keypresses require a little too much pressure. The case and the keys themselves are not the thick solid plastic I expected. They're thicker plastic than modern keyboards, but not compared to other keyboards of that era.


Edit: Now that I've had a couple days to get used to it, I now love the IBM AT keyboard! Out of 20 vintage keyboards I've tested, it feels the best - and it's definitely better than the Model M.

Vlad
June 26th, 2008, 05:25 PM
I really like my Model M and all but anymore it kinda gets on my nerves. Lately I've been using my Sun keyboard which isn't as loud and just as easy to type with. Whats kinda interesting about it is it has the Super button and right click button whatever thats called but they're blank. Yay for OS independent keyboards.

Half-Saint
June 26th, 2008, 10:57 PM
Interesting that I noticed this thread only now.. as it happens, I started a multi-part article about keyboards yesterday (see signature). Might provide for some interesting reading when it's finished!

Mr.Amiga, you get used to having to push the keys harder very fast. I love my Model M and I now own three of them :) There are also other great keyboards for example Northgate OmniKey Ultra or OmniKey Plus. Another excellent keyboard is the Apple Extended Keyboard II. You can use one on a PC with the help of a ADB to USB converter.

There's also a number of newly made keyboards that use micro switches, just to name a few: Unicomp, Deck, Scorpius M10, Majestouch, CVT Avant Prime, Das Keyboard II/III etc. The problem with most of those is that they cost $100+.

Cheers
SainT

per
June 27th, 2008, 03:33 AM
Have anybody here used "Key-Tronic" keyboards (popular at least in Norway before 1995)? I think it uses rubber membrane thecnology. Each key is mounted on a plastic cylinder with a rubber underlayer. Each time a key is pressed, a pole pushes down the rubber layer. The keys have to be pushed down as far as on the PC/XT keyboards. I've not opened it completely up, so I haven't examined completely. They're not "Clicky" at all.

linemanduke
June 27th, 2008, 04:19 AM
Have anybody here used "Key-Tronic" keyboards (popular at least in Norway before 1995)? I think it uses rubber membrane technology. Each key is mounted on a plastic cylinder with a rubber underlayer. Each time a key is pressed, a pole pushes down the rubber layer. The keys have to be pushed down as far as on the PC/XT keyboards. I've not opened it completely up, so I haven't examined completely. They're not "Clicky" at all.

I had one for my pc jr it was weird look like a remote on the inside. Little piece of metal tape on a piece of foam (which had deteriorated).

I love my model m, it's a later model from when they replaced the computer at my school in 96. I like the keyboard on my toshiba 400cdt the most though. Its not that it make noise or any thing like that it's just the right size for my big hands and fingers unlike this little keyboard on this think pad I'm using now

carlsson
June 27th, 2008, 06:09 AM
Have heard of? Key Tronic keyboards are the only ones I use, both at work and home. However, some models are more squishy than others. I like those with a distinct touch.

per
June 27th, 2008, 10:19 AM
I realized that KeyTronic was using the rubber dome meckanism, the only difference is that the rubber used is not as soft as on most recent keyboards.

Too bad I broke my DIN > PS2 adaptor, one of the pins broke, so I have to replace the PS2 plug.

vwestlife
June 27th, 2008, 03:55 PM
I really like my Model M and all but anymore it kinda gets on my nerves. Lately I've been using my Sun keyboard which isn't as loud and just as easy to type with. Whats kinda interesting about it is it has the Super button and right click button whatever thats called but they're blank. Yay for OS independent keyboards.
You might like a Tandy Enhanced Keyboard. It uses the same buckling spring mechanism as IBM, but the touch is noticeably lighter and the clicking is much quieter. It is basically equivalent to IBM/Lexmark's "library quiet" version of the Model M which they offered but did not market widely. It was Tandy's standard-issue 101-key keyboard (with PS/2 plug) from the late '80s through mid '90s.

modem7
June 27th, 2008, 04:50 PM
Have heard of? Key Tronic keyboards are the only ones I use, both at work and home. However, some models are more squishy than others. I like those with a distinct touch.
The Key Tronic keyboards are my favourites, and I too use them both at work and at home.
Quite a few keyboards were made for various companies by Key Tronic. My preferred Key Tronic keyboard is the Honeywell SpaceMate (has soft touch).

vwestlife
June 27th, 2008, 05:11 PM
Quite a few keyboards were made for various companies by Key Tronic. My preferred Key Tronic keyboard is the Honeywell SpaceMate (has soft touch).
Honeywell also had a strange mouse in the late '90s which was neither roller-ball nor optical. It had a unique way of sensing motion which I have never seen used since then.

Half-Saint
June 27th, 2008, 10:46 PM
Funny thing is, KeyTronic are about the only rubber dome keyboards that I ever liked. I used one at my last job. I'm currently using a Logitech Internet 350 keyboard at work and it sucks big time. It's so mushy you wouldn't believe it! Disgusting.

SainT

Vlad
June 27th, 2008, 10:58 PM
Just came across my black KeyTronic the other day and used it for a bit on the work bench. I'd use it full time but I can't get over that backspace key. Its one of the ones thats only the size of a letter key.

carlsson
June 28th, 2008, 02:30 AM
By the way, has anyone seen those Microsoft branded keyboards lacking the INSERT key? The layout is basically the standard one, but the DELETE key (not backspace) is twice as high as usually, and INSERT is missing completely. I wrote about it on this forum before, perhaps in the Off Topic area because it clearly isn't a vintage keyboard. I'm still curious who came up with that design, in particular as the keyboard is sprinkled with tons of extra buttons for e.g. Windows use (open web browser, play music, go to control panel etc).

Mr.Amiga500
June 28th, 2008, 05:53 AM
Mr.Amiga, you get used to having to push the keys harder very fast. I love my Model M and I now own three of them :)

I think you're right! I am starting to get used to it. Maybe my fingers were tired that day or something, but today it feels fine. I think I like the AT keyboard best.


Another excellent keyboard is the Apple Extended Keyboard II. You can use one on a PC with the help of a ADB to USB converter.

Yes, that's what I've heard. I just got the "Apple Keyboard" (M0116) and it feels nice - similar to the Amiga 1000 (unlike the "Apple Keyboard II" (M0487), which is utter crap). I assume the "Apple Extended Keyboard II" must be similar to the M0116 - except with extra keys.


Does anybody know when (and why) the key text moved from the centre of keys into one corner of the key? On computer keyboards - mostly before 1984, the letters and numbers on the key are large and centred. Later keyboards usually have much smaller text in the upper left of the key (or on Apple, lower left). I assume it's so people can move their fingers slightly to see what key they're pressing, but I think it's pretty stupid.

I like the old style - thick shiny black plastic keys with large centred white text. You can get modern keyboards with large centred text (on cheap dull plastic), but it's for the visually impared so arrows and controls (and all fine detail) are replaced with stupid short form text.

per
June 28th, 2008, 10:42 AM
I just repaired my Adaptor today, the broken pin was the GND pin. Now I can use my old AT keyboards on my modern PC!

vwestlife
June 28th, 2008, 12:22 PM
By the way, has anyone seen those Microsoft branded keyboards lacking the INSERT key? The layout is basically the standard one, but the DELETE key (not backspace) is twice as high as usually, and INSERT is missing completely. I wrote about it on this forum before, perhaps in the Off Topic area because it clearly isn't a vintage keyboard. I'm still curious who came up with that design, in particular as the keyboard is sprinkled with tons of extra buttons for e.g. Windows use (open web browser, play music, go to control panel etc).
That's the "new" Microsoft layout. They moved Insert to Fn+Print Screen and Scroll Lock to Fn+Pause. (Yes, an "Fn" key on a desktop keyboard -- shades of the PCjr! :eek: ) That makes Print Screen triple-duty since IBM already moved SysRq to Alt+Print Screen back when they first created the 101-key layout!

http://i12.tinypic.com/82t000x.png

And Apple has killed the Insert key, too.

http://adjectivenoun.org/gallery2/d/59806-2/Apple+Keyboard+Fn.jpg

Apparently there has already been some backlash because many keyboards with the new layout now give you a real dedicated Insert key at the top, to the left of Print Screen.

And Microsoft's vendetta against Insert began over a decade ago. I believe in every version of Word after 6.0, you have to select a well-hidden option to enable insert/overtype switching via the Insert key. Otherwise you're permanently locked into insert mode.

vwestlife
June 28th, 2008, 04:29 PM
I like the old style - thick shiny black plastic keys with large centred white text. You can get modern keyboards with large centred text (on cheap dull plastic), but it's for the visually impared so arrows and controls (and all fine detail) are replaced with stupid short form text.
One thing I miss are "deep dish" keytops, which had a nice way of fitting your fingers. Now, most keys are completely flat.

http://wandel.ca/ibm5100/IBM%205100%20display,%20CPU%20register%20display%2 0mode.jpg

carlsson
June 29th, 2008, 06:14 AM
Gah! What's wrong with an Insert key? I mean, it is not like modern keyboards contain fewer keys than they used to, quite the opposite.

Half-Saint
June 30th, 2008, 03:28 AM
Gah! What's wrong with an Insert key? I mean, it is not like modern keyboards contain fewer keys than they used to, quite the opposite.

Yes, and what's with all the media buttons they keep pushing at us? I hate them!

im_an_alien
June 30th, 2008, 04:09 PM
You know what I hate? Standby buttons. Not only is it really annowing to hit standby isntead of Esc (on this beyboard, standby it _right_ above esc), but if I accidentally bump it while I'm in linux, it won't come out of standby, or at least I can't figure out how to make it. The media buttons aren't as bad because in my experience typically they don't even do anything.

Vlad
June 30th, 2008, 04:24 PM
On a cordless set I don't use the Suspend/Standby button is actually recessed down into the keyboard to the point its hard to press even if you really want to. I wish that was more prevalent. I was using a Sun keyboard but the one I have is hard, nay impossible to find anymore and I don't want it to get icky because I'm paranoid like that so I'm sticking to the HP keyboard I bought. It has the suspend above ESC thing, but its far enough up you miss it. It does have a small row of multimedia buttons that I like. The only media player one it has is Play/Pause combo, which is the only one I really use. Occasionally I'll launch the email client if my hand isn't on the mouse.

dreddnott
June 30th, 2008, 10:57 PM
I'll swear by IBM's Model M keyboards, I have two, one for each of my otherwise-modern desktops. They've outlasted most of my other components and I think I can count on them for at least a couple more decades!

Half-Saint: Unicomp keyboards aren't typically that expensive, and for the most part, since they basically took over IBM's Model M manufacturing facility, they use the classic buckling-spring technology.

Slashdot had an interesting review (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/06/30/1423209) of the latest iteration of the Das Keyboard recently, interestingly enough. CmdrTaco apparently didn't like it because it doesn't cooperate with his Mac too well, heh. The comments are great, though, and of course mostly focus on the IBM Model M.

Half-Saint
July 1st, 2008, 03:50 AM
Half-Saint: Unicomp keyboards aren't typically that expensive, and for the most part, since they basically took over IBM's Model M manufacturing facility, they use the classic buckling-spring technology.

I never explicitly said they were expensive. As it is, I think they are actually the cheapest of the newly manufactured clicky bunch. As for me, I'll just stick to the good old Model M. They're still relatively easy to find at the flea market and cost about $5 a piece :D

Cheers
SainT

Tinkerer
July 1st, 2008, 06:31 PM
I always liked the old Northgate Omnikey keyboards. I have 5 of them last time I counted. One is the old gold label version. :)

im_an_alien
July 1st, 2008, 07:11 PM
Model M's are great, but I have a tendency to stay up really late at night,and I'm always afraid the loud clicking will wake someone up, or at the least annoy someone who's already up into making me go to bed.

Chuck(G)
July 9th, 2008, 04:11 PM
Although I'm typing this on a Wang-branded Model M, I like other ones better. German-made Cherry keboards for the NCR 286 systems had a great feel and put the basic F1-F10 keys on the left, as in the 5150 keyboard, with F11-30 on a top row across the keybord.

The best-constructed one that I can recall was a George Risk made for (I think) RCA. Individual sealed and pressure-calibrated reed switches for all keys. No springs used--just doughnut-shaped ceramic magnets encircling the reed switch. Encoding was via a diode matrix and some very early Fairchild DTL. Output was EBCDIC. I used it with my TV Typewriter for a time.

Mr.Amiga500
July 9th, 2008, 09:51 PM
That George Risk keyboard sounds interesting. Is there a picture anywhere?

I just bought a 1991 IBM Model M for $4. I think I'm starting to get a bit of a "keyboard obsession". If I look at all the retro computers around my house, I can count 24 keyboards. Last year I had 2.

Maybe I better go to a "Keyboards Anonymous" meeting. ;)

Chuck(G)
July 10th, 2008, 08:11 AM
That George Risk keyboard sounds interesting. Is there a picture anywhere?

No, I wish I still had the thing, but it departed as excess baggage in a move years ago. I've checked the web for photos of old RCA equipment from the Spectra 70 era, but there's almost nothing around.

Note that no one praises modern Apple keyboards...:p

Mr.Amiga500
July 19th, 2008, 05:45 AM
I've been looking though a bunch of old Byte magazines (what an awesome magazine that was) and the keyboard of the Victor 9000 looks great. Does anybody have one? Does it feel as good as it looks?

Chuck(G)
July 19th, 2008, 08:34 AM
I'm not certain, but ISTR that the keyboard in the Sirius/9000 was made by either Microswitch or Cherry (back then, they were almost interchangeable). Both my Durangos have Microswitch keyboards and they're very nice indeed.

One thing that the older keyboards feature is what's called "double shot" molded keytops, where the legend on the key is molded into the key as a differently-colored plastic. AFAIK, that's not done on modern keyboards, so keytop legends eventually wear off.

Even the Model M reproductions that you can buy don't have the old style keytops. I get the impression that double-shot molding is pretty much unobtainium today.

Allen
July 20th, 2008, 08:56 PM
I'm definitely in the camp that IBM Model M keyboards are the best. These represent IBM's commitment to quality and the idea that things should be made with pride in the USA. I'm glad these keyboards are still made today in the USA.

I can understand why Microsoft and others have removed or "demoted" the insert key. Since the default is already "insert" and since there is little desire to "overwrite," it would appear that the insert key is little pressed. However, I press it often because I use keystroke Shift+Insert to paste instead of Ctrl+V. I'm probably one of the few that still use Shift+Insert.

I'm annoyed that the Microsoft Windows logo is on nearly every keyboard made since the mid-1990s. It doesn't seem right to attach one of these 104-key keyboards with the Microsoft Windows logo key to a computer running another operating system. Why couldn't keyboard manufacturers label these keys without promoting a specific operating system?

So I prefer IBM Model M keyboards with the previous, enhanced 101-key layout.

Druid6900
July 20th, 2008, 09:12 PM
Why couldn't keyboard manufacturers label these keys without promoting a specific operating system?

Oh, I don't know. You think it might be because in excess of 90% (probably closer to 95%) of the computers in the world are running Windows?

The other 5 to 10% (I don't have the exact figure handy and I'm too lazy to look them up) are Mac OS, Linux and all others.

Chances are extremely good that, if you sit down at a computer and push that logo key, you are going to get a start menu.

Allen
July 20th, 2008, 09:21 PM
The Windows key doesn't do anything on my Linux system. There appears to be a "Windows Key Logo License Agreement" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_key). It sounds like keyboard manufacturers are required to put the Microsoft Windows logo on these keys. I guess I'm in the minority feeling "oppressed" by Microsoft.

Unknown_K
July 20th, 2008, 09:26 PM
The Windows key is just Ctrl+Esc isn't it? Atleast that is what I use on my old Northgate Omnikey/102 thats pre Windows keys.

Allen
July 20th, 2008, 09:32 PM
Yes, keystroke Ctrl+Esc is like pressing the Windows key, but it doesn't look like you can use the shortcuts (like Windows key+M which minimizes all windows) unless you have the Windows key itself. Keystroke Shift+F10 is like pressing the menu key.

Chuck(G)
July 20th, 2008, 09:58 PM
The Windows key doesn't do anything on my Linux system. There appears to be a "Windows Key Logo License Agreement" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_key). It sounds like keyboard manufacturers are required to put the Microsoft Windows logo on these keys. I guess I'm in the minority feeling "oppressed" by Microsoft.

Oh, I don't know. Look at all of the Peecee keyboards with "SysRq" and "Pause" keys on them. Does SysRq do anything on your system? The legend on the Model M seems to indicate that it's an "Alt" combination. But it still doesn't do anything on any of my systems. The Model M doesn't have a Windoze key on it and I've never missed it.

I do wish the M had a volume control knob on it, like many of the "internet" keyboards. That's just so convenient...

carlsson
July 20th, 2008, 10:12 PM
A volume knob to turn up or down the clickety-clack? :)

Chuck(G)
July 21st, 2008, 08:16 AM
A volume knob to turn up or down the clickety-clack? :)

That's not as silly as it sounds. IIRC, the operator's console on the CDC 6600 had a speaker and a volume control (accessible from the underside of the keyboard) to make a "chunk-chunk" sound as keys were pressed.

I've certainly seen the same thing on other keyboards.

MikeS
July 21st, 2008, 09:13 AM
There's just no pleasing everybody ;-)

Allen's WIN key doesn't work in Linux, but his SysRq key quite possibly does, whereas it's apparently the opposite for Chuck (or would be if he had a WIN key)...

I think it's one of those good ideas that never took off; many of the systems I worked on in the "good old days" had a similar key that would take you out of an application and into the OS under any circumstances, and I think that was the intent. Instead, many PC applications used one of the F keys (often F10) for a similar purpose; easier to implement but not quite as universal.

FWIW, my Toshiba 3100e uses SysRq to switch screen modes, and various other systems used it as well for hardware functions (reset, etc.)...

m

barythrin
July 21st, 2008, 11:22 AM
Did "break" on a PC ever really do anything on it's own? On my MS ergo keyboard it's actually incorrect merging Pause/Break and Printscreen/SysRq (those are top->bottom) but that'd be incorrect since it should theoretically be shift+pause to get break and in this writing it would be shift+break to get pause.

Bleh.. anyway, I only knew break from basic programming and ctrl+break but I don't remember if ctrl+c has always also done a break or not?

Also, I think I asked this before but were there useful applications for the Alt key besides ctrl+alt+del and Word Perfect?.. just curious if it came from mainframe world or what.

MikeS
July 21st, 2008, 06:59 PM
Well, the ALT key gets a good workout in Windows...

One of the more useful applications is to type special characters not on the keyboard (ALT + numeric keyboard ASCII value)

m

Mr.Amiga500
July 23rd, 2008, 03:45 PM
Well, the ALT key gets a good workout in Windows...

One of the more useful applications is to type special characters not on the keyboard (ALT + numeric keyboard ASCII value)

m

I've always hated that. It's totally stupid to force users to memorize an ASCII list just to type special characters. There's the Character Map program (or whatever it's called), but the window doesn't stay on top and you can't redirect output to where you're typing - just copy and paste. It's totally inefficient when you're typing a letter full of accents.

The Amiga has a nice way of doing it. Pressing Alt switches the keyboard keys to the alternate characters. For accented letters, you press the accent key then the letter the accent goes on. Example: for , you just press Alt-F for the accent, then e. If you want , you do Alt-F then a. If you can't remember which key is the special character you want, you just bring up the Keyshow graphical keyboard.

I think many people have stopped adding accents to words like clich and rsum just because it's such a pain in the ass to do it in most operating systems.

MikeS
July 23rd, 2008, 05:31 PM
Agreed, it's not the most convenient, but for accented characters, umlauts, etc. there are the different keyboard layouts...

But there are 128 different special characters in the PC's ASCII character set after all, and without a special keyboard you'd pretty well have to look some of those up somewhere no matter what. How do you draw a text box on an amiga?

m

Chuck(G)
July 23rd, 2008, 06:23 PM
For handling European character sets, I simply set Windoze to use the "US International" keyboard layout. etc. are just double-key combinations; to get , just type a double quote (") and then a u, for example. There are other specials, such as ctrl+alt+s to get German "". Pretty intuitive.

For other sets, such as Cyrillic, I have an alternate (phonetic) map available that I can switch to using ctrl+alt. Thus, "Дмитрий Медведев" is typed as D-m-i-t-r-i-j, etc. No fussing with character maps or alt+keypad combinations.

barythrin
July 23rd, 2008, 08:21 PM
Yeah, I think keyb went ahead and used the appropriate font as well but don't quite remember. I know it changed the keyboard layout, not just the characters. But yeah I was aware of alt+keypad ascii as well as in some programs ctrl+p+letter to print the symbol (like ctrl+p (keep holding ctrl) g would give you ascii 7 for bell, etc).

carlsson
July 23rd, 2008, 11:57 PM
By the way, the alternate Cyrillic map is known as homophonic. (please, don't misread!)

Mr.Amiga500
July 24th, 2008, 05:47 AM
For handling European character sets, I simply set Windoze to use the "US International" keyboard layout. etc. are just double-key combinations; to get , just type a double quote (") and then a u, for example. There are other specials, such as ctrl+alt+s to get German "". Pretty intuitive.

That sounds good, but doesn't it screw you up typing regular characters? I once tried setting my keyboard to Canadian-French, but had to switch back because I couldn't access many basic characters (and didn't feel like constantly switching layouts). I'll try "US International" the next time I use (or am forced to use) Windows.


But there are 128 different special characters in the PC's ASCII character set after all, and without a special keyboard you'd pretty well have to look some of those up somewhere no matter what.

That's true, but the accented characters and common symbols should be easily accessed. In Windows in US layout, do you know how to do: -without looking up an ASCII code?

On Amiga, it's so simple (US layout):
Alt-l =
Alt-4 = (Shift-4 is $, so this makes sense)
Alt-p =
Alt-r =

I'm sure some Windows programs have features to add special characters from a window or menu, but you have to take your hands off the keyboard, move the mouse and click on them.


How do you draw a text box on an amiga?

Do people still use characters to draw a text box? I think the last time I did that was in an MS-DOS assembler program I wrote. After the GUI came out, there's not much point to do it with text (only works with monospaced text anyway). On Amiga, you just use wordprocessors and DTP programs to draw boxes around text.


Back on topic:
So, nobody has a Victor 9000 keyboard? What about the DEC Rainbow keyboard? How does that feel?

MikeS
July 24th, 2008, 06:42 AM
---
<snip>
Do people still use characters to draw a text box? I think the last time I did that was in an MS-DOS assembler program I wrote. After the GUI came out, there's not much point to do it with text (only works with monospaced text anyway).
<snip>

---
Well, the question was, "were there useful applications for the Alt key besides ctrl+alt+del and Word Perfect?..," not whether there were better ways.

m

Mr.Amiga500
July 24th, 2008, 08:24 AM
Yeah, I just went off on a little rant because it was something that bugged me for years.

Back to keyboards:
Did any other makers have "clicky" models? IBM owned the patent on the buckling spring, but did any company licence that design or have their own similar clicky design? (not counting the many with audible speaker beep when pressing keys)

Chuck(G)
July 24th, 2008, 09:00 AM
That sounds good, but doesn't it screw you up typing regular characters? I once tried setting my keyboard to Canadian-French, but had to switch back because I couldn't access many basic characters (and didn't feel like constantly switching layouts). I'll try "US International" the next time I use (or am forced to use) Windows.

The only characters that you really have to get used to doing are the quotes (' and ") which you type by keying quote-space. It gets to be second nature after a very short time.


Did any other makers have "clicky" models? IBM owned the patent on the buckling spring, but did any company licence that design or have their own similar clicky design? (not counting the many with audible speaker beep when pressing keys)

There is a current maker of the IBM-style clicky keyboards:

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/keyboards.html


By the way, the alternate Cyrillic map is known as homophonic. (please, don't misread!)

Useful--I've only heard the word used in the musical sense... FWIW, there's a similar keymap for Mac, switched by using the "Caps Lock" key, which makes a lot of sense to me. Does anyone ever use "Caps Lock" for its intended purpose?

Mr.Amiga500
July 24th, 2008, 09:08 AM
There is a current maker of the IBM-style clicky keyboards:

http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/keyboards.html


I know. I meant back in the 1980's. Somebody said the Tandy 1000 keyboard was "clicky". Did they licence the buckling spring design from IBM or did they have their own design? Or was it not "clicky" at all? Did anybody else make keyboards with a distinctive tactile click? (not just individual keyswitches like Alps/Cherry, but an actual clicking sound & feel)

barythrin
July 24th, 2008, 09:32 AM
Now that you mention it, although this may not count our Z-15(1?) system (Zenith Data Systems 8088) and it's keyboard makes a click sound but it is through the speaker (which I think is actually in the bottom of the keyboard, unless I'm remembering it incorrectly as a child). But I don't know if the keys would be spring loaded, I just know it makes the noise. I also *THINK* I recall some setup program to turn that option on and off (could have been in the debugger but I really don't remember that freshly).

What I remember is when playing some games like Castle where you'd have to hold down the numberpad direction key and the keyboard would make that click noise for each time it read it until the keyboard buffer filled up then it'd do system beeps and not take any additional characters. Honestly was a complete PITA since in a game like that you'd have to hold down your key for no more than 5 seconds or so and then do it again for the constant movement effect.

Chuck(G)
July 24th, 2008, 12:17 PM
I think IBM/Lexmark was unique in the manufacture of buckling-spring keyboards. The other buckling-spring keyboards that I've seen have been rebadged IBMs.

Of course, if you want audible feedback, you can't beat an 026 keypunch. Press a key and get a big THUNK as the hole's punched...

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2008, 03:04 PM
Here I go, weighing in on another religious issue:

CLICKY KEYBOARDS SUCK!!!

I can't stand 'em...they drown out all the voices in my head!

--T

barythrin
July 24th, 2008, 03:15 PM
Yeah but you have to admit, they're the easiest to get a nice drumbeat going so all the voices in your head and have a nice acapella session.

Mr.Amiga500
July 24th, 2008, 06:49 PM
Here I go, weighing in on another religious issue:

CLICKY KEYBOARDS SUCK!!!

I can't stand 'em...they drown out all the voices in my head!

--T

A full-frontal lobotomy will fix those voices. You can even do it on your own with an icepick and a hammer. (but for God's sake, cover the carpet first!)

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2008, 08:19 PM
A full-frontal lobotomy will fix those voices. You can even do it on your own with an icepick and a hammer. (but for God's sake, cover the carpet first!)

Done there, been that...only I couldn't find an icepick (do they even make 'em anymore?), so I used a BIC pen instead. All that did was add some French voices to all the rest! I think the ink may have been contaminated with trace amounts of lead...

--T

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2008, 08:33 PM
Yeah but you have to admit, they're the easiest to get a nice drumbeat going so all the voices in your head and have a nice acapella session.

My voices gots no talent whatsoever.

--T

Yzzerdd
July 24th, 2008, 08:40 PM
My voices gots no talent whatsoever.

--T

Hmm, mine do. Except there is only one voice in my head, which is me. Somehow, it sings wonderfully, which is odd seems I plain suck. Great thing about TALKING to that voice in my head? It actually gives me someone to talk to who is a great listener AND has a powerful mind for very good and well-supported arguements.

And so the crazy side takes one more step out my mouth--wait...fingers?

--Jack

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2008, 10:40 PM
Hmm, mine do. Except there is only one voice in my head, which is me. Somehow, it sings wonderfully, which is odd seems I plain suck. Great thing about TALKING to that voice in my head? It actually gives me someone to talk to who is a great listener AND has a powerful mind for very good and well-supported arguements.

And so the crazy side takes one more step out my mouth--wait...fingers?

--Jack

Mebbe it's because I have absolutely no imagination. Hell, I even dream of ugly women...

--T

carlsson
July 24th, 2008, 10:49 PM
All this brain talk makes me think of the distant future, when keyboards at all may obsoleted and computers become assistents to the brain, probably interconnected wirelessly at private frequencies. Maybe it is sci-fi, but part of the technology is there already today for disabled people. To run a computer with a keyboard will be sooo 20th century, almost as outdated as we might think it is to hit two stones to get a spark and start a fire.

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2008, 11:05 PM
All this brain talk makes me think of the distant future, when keyboards at all may obsoleted and computers become assistents to the brain, probably interconnected wirelessly at private frequencies. Maybe it is sci-fi, but part of the technology is there already today for disabled people. To run a computer with a keyboard will be sooo 20th century, almost as outdated as we might think it is to hit two stones to get a spark and start a fire.

I can hardly wait to get my TekWar implant and jack-in to the net!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TekWar

--

Chuck(G)
July 25th, 2008, 09:58 AM
All this brain talk makes me think of the distant future, when keyboards at all may obsoleted and computers become assistents to the brain, probably interconnected wirelessly at private frequencies. Maybe it is sci-fi, but part of the technology is there already today for disabled people. To run a computer with a keyboard will be sooo 20th century, almost as outdated as we might think it is to hit two stones to get a spark and start a fire.

Lately, I've been wondering why we still have widgets with screens when it's possible to simply project an image directly onto my retinas.

But I'm old-fashioned; I think at about the same speed at which I type. The problem, as I have discovered, is that I often speak faster than I can think...;)

barythrin
July 25th, 2008, 01:30 PM
That brings current keyboards into the mix (off topic, but the thread is wavering anyway lol). The Xybernaut MA-IV, etc that have the headset say a similar claim of projecting the image into the retena. That sounds cooler than it is. It's just a mini screen on a quite uncomfortable head mount with a see through mirror in front of it that reflects the image in front of you so you can see it. It'd be nicer if everyone around you couldn't see it as well, but whatever.

The MIT Twidler was a semi-historical one handed keyboard.. obviously created for all the college kids that heard about typing with one hand j/k it was via a discussion we all had on the wearable computer list back in the day trying to figure out some of the best methods for portable typing. Some of the things mentioned were adding contacts to a jacket or shirt that you could type on both side of your jacket (split keyboard). One person thought about typing with your tongue with contacts inside of your mouth (I didn't dig that idea).

Chuck(G)
July 25th, 2008, 02:37 PM
'Way back when, a co-worker thought he'd take a high-tech approach to gambling (this was pre-microprocessor). He rigged up a couple of LEDs in his glasses and a switch in his shoe that he could work with his toe and concealed various bits of circuitry and batteries in his clothes. The idea was to count cards in blackjack.

Well, he went to Reno, and to make a long story short, it didn't work. His companion who came along to watch the show found him in a stall in the men's room trying to repair his failed contraption.

But I could imagine simple signaling devices activated by bringing one's teeth together in a certain way, etc. A player of any musical wind instrument will tell you that there's a lot that goes on in the mouth, lips and fingers to get just the right sound, so I could imagine a data entry device based on that.

So there aren't any devices out there that actually scan a raster onto the retina?

vwestlife
August 3rd, 2008, 05:35 PM
Now that you mention it, although this may not count our Z-15(1?) system (Zenith Data Systems 8088) and it's keyboard makes a click sound but it is through the speaker (which I think is actually in the bottom of the keyboard, unless I'm remembering it incorrectly as a child).
The Atari 400 and 800 also made a key click beep through an internal speaker -- separate from the 4-voice tone generator, which had its own external audio output. All newer Atari computers (XL, XE, ST, STe, TT, Falcon, etc.) routed the key click beep through the main audio output and no longer had an internal speaker dedicated to it. On all, the key beep can be disabled if desired.

The NEC PC-8001 series also had an electronic key click beep through its small internal speaker. Its keyboard had no tactile feel, but it was very sturdily constructed with a metal case, so it had a nice solid feel when typing.

TNC
August 4th, 2008, 03:27 AM
For me is "Das Keyboard II" the best one ever. The old IBM klicky XT keyboards will also give you a really sweet soft experience.... ;)

carlsson
August 4th, 2008, 05:39 AM
Yesterday I borrowed a boxed BBC Micro from a friend, because mine has broken down and I want to diagnose what's the fault. In the last two years I've owned four different Beebs, and felt the keyboard is nothing particular. Now this fifth one.. wow, it has such an instant, tactile response that I suspect it is barely used, just discoloured over the years. I was actually shocked to type on it, almost like the characters displayed themselves before I pressed the keys.

What I'm trying to say is that the feel and response of a keyboard may depend a lot about what condition the computer is. I also realize a tactile response does not automatically make a keyboard nice to type on for a long while.

Tinkerer
August 4th, 2008, 05:37 PM
As far as I know, all of the Northgate Omnikey keyboards 'click' and they use mechanical ALPS switches as did Zenith, Dell, Focus, and Leading Edge, to name a few.

TandyMan100
January 9th, 2009, 07:11 AM
The Model 100. The modern keyboards just make ya want to :killcomputer:

Fallo
January 9th, 2009, 11:18 AM
Nothing will ever beat the Model M, IMO. The IBM XT keyboard is unmatched in terms of sheer indestructibility, but the amount of noise it makes is a bit irritating.

I had an NEC 101-key keyboard which I did not like at all. The keys made a very springy sound that I found annoying. They were also very flat, and hurt the tendons in my hand after a while. Eventually I killed the spacebar playing the PC version of Double Dragon (try that game and you'll see what I mean).

I'm typing this on a Compaq keyboard that I've always detested. It's a typically modern Chinese-made piece of garbage with very thin plastic and mushy rubber dome keys. It also has a bunch of buttons on the top that do things like go to shopping websites, Compaq's website, or check e-mail. They need a special driver, and have no function on my AMD 64 machine. Still, the black-and-silver colors of the keyboard are cool. Reminds you a little of the TRS-80.

gerrydoire
January 9th, 2009, 11:41 AM
I've always been fond of Keytronics keyboards....

Mr.Amiga500
December 27th, 2009, 08:25 AM
I just got a surprisingly un-yellowed (is that a word?) Apple Extended Keyboard (M0115C). It is - as I expected - very similar in feel to the Apple Keyboard (M0116). I don't know why people keep saying it's a "clicky keyboard", because it certainly isn't. It only makes noise when the key hits bottom. If this is what people call "clicky", then nearly every keyboard is a clicky keyboard. So far, the only real clicky keyboards I've ever tried are the ones made by IBM. (need to check out that Tandy)

It is a nice keyboard though - just nothing really special. I wouldn't say it's "The Best Keyboard Ever Made". There are plenty of keyboards that feel just as nice (Amiga 1000, NeXTstation, SGI, basically anything else that uses Alps or Cherry switches). I actually prefer the feel of the TRS-80 Model III keyboard or early TI-99/4A.

Chuck(G)
December 27th, 2009, 08:53 AM
The keyboard on the IBM Displaywriter was a magnificent thing as far as feel went, but definitely not low-profile. I wish I could find one.

kishy
December 27th, 2009, 09:07 AM
IBM Model M...just about any of them (there are about a bazillion varieties), with a few definite fails for sure.

Buckling spring like the Model F XT / AT, but with a layout that's actually usable. Noise is a plus. Feel is awesome.

I game on one. Not one like you'd expect though.
It's a converted 3179 terminal keyboard which happens to use Model M technology.

Anonymous Freak
December 27th, 2009, 11:43 AM
I like the Model M, but I also like the Apple Extended Keyboard (basically their version of the Model M; sadly, ADB-to-USB adapters don't work in the later versions of OS X, so I can't use it on my newer machines, but it works great on my Blue & White G3, which is the last desktop to have an ADB port.)

My NeXT keyboard is nice, but not excellent.

One style I have become enamored with is the recent spate of 'modern large chicklet' keyboards like Apple's latest batch. I find that I can type faster on my new Apple Wireless Keyboard than I can on any other keyboard. I don't know why, but it's just really easy to type on. (The only problem I have with mine is that it occasionally decides when I hit a modifier key to not release it when I stop pressing it. I have to turn the keyboard off then on again to get normal function back. It happens most often with the 'fn' key, but it also happens with any modifier key. I've had it happen with the space bar once, too.)

Mr.Amiga500
December 27th, 2009, 01:39 PM
sadly, ADB-to-USB adapters don't work in the later versions of OS X, so I can't use it on my newer machines

What?? That was my whole plan! I don't understand why it would stop working with newer versions. It doesn't make sense.

I bet Apple did that on purpose. They want to sell new hardware, not have people use old hardware. Years ago, I used to think Apple was a "good" company and Microsoft was the "evil". That was before I started getting and researching Apple computers. Obviously, they've both been just as evil all along.

Anonymous Freak
December 27th, 2009, 06:14 PM
What?? That was my whole plan! I don't understand why it would stop working with newer versions. It doesn't make sense.

I bet Apple did that on purpose. They want to sell new hardware, not have people use old hardware. Years ago, I used to think Apple was a "good" company and Microsoft was the "evil". That was before I started getting and researching Apple computers. Obviously, they've both been just as evil all along.

I think it's just that Griffin, the company that made the iMate (http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/imate), got lazy and didn't bother writing new drivers when 10.4 came out.

Raven
December 29th, 2009, 07:47 AM
Yeah that's a bit fail. I have a Model F that is most definitely used and beat up, it was even thrown away and left in the rain (when I stumbled across it and saved it) but it still works and looks nice. :)

saundby
January 3rd, 2010, 11:11 PM
My favorite keyboard wasn't on a computer--it was on my IBM Executive typewriter. Worst keyboard--Atari XEGS. Like typing on a capacitive foam pad with cheesy plastic keys. I'd rather use my original Atari 400 or an original Pet membrane (or yes, a TS1000.)

And the 026 was good, but the 029 was better. ;)

geoffm3
January 5th, 2010, 10:31 AM
I think my list would have to be (in no particular order):

Northgate Omnikey
Coleco ADAM
Mitsumi clicky and non-clicky mechanical switch keyboards (Amiga and PC... I have a really nice ALR branded clicky one). These use mechanical leaf switches. They tend to get sticky with age but are easily cleaned with cotton swab/rubbing alcohol).
Apple Extended Keyboard, and the one that came with the Apple IIgs. Both are excellent.

Probably my least favorite is a lot of other's favs... the infamous IBM Model M. It's just too clicky for my tastes, and the travel is too deep.

arfink
January 5th, 2010, 12:51 PM
My favorite is the IBM Model F. It was a really expensive piece of gear back in the day I am told, and was one of the main reasons why people would be interested in buying an IBM XT. Anyways, it's really big, really heavy, clicks like a machine gun, feels great, and has sweet retro looks.

Mr.Amiga500
January 12th, 2010, 09:55 PM
I want to get these keyboards:

Victor 9000
BASIS 108
Memotech MTX512 (or 500, RS 128 )
Wicat 150
DEC VT series

Has anybody tried any of these? I've never had the chance, but they look amazing (I've got a thing for black sculpted keys). If anybody's selling any one of them, CONTACT ME!

Mad-Mike
January 17th, 2010, 08:37 AM
Here's the list from my stockpile

#1 Northgate Omnikey 102 (what I'm typing on at this moment after several months rest, going to see what needs fixed on it)
#2 IBM Personal Computer "Model F"
#3 Any one of the three IBM PS/2 Model "M" Keyboards I have
#4 Tandy 1000
#5 Monterey International K104

I'm a big fan of buckling spring and Alps Keyswitches. I need to do some work on this old Northgate though, it's pretty used up.

Dwight Elvey
January 17th, 2010, 08:48 AM
Hi
My best was the ones used on the beehive
terminals.
Dwight

cgrape2
January 17th, 2010, 09:15 AM
Please don't think less of me,but my favorite is a Wirelss(I know,HERESY,BURN HIM!!!)Keyboard made for,of all places Target.It was sold as a "Designer"branded Keyboard(Designed by Michael Graves,I think) and Mouse combo.The mouse was awful,but the keyboard ....ahh.The look and fell of an old IBM style (without the clicky sounds,tho)with interesting color and some decent weight.
cgrape2

Mr.Amiga500
January 28th, 2010, 02:18 PM
I just got a couple Apple Extended II keyboards (M3501 made in USA, not Mexico) and compared to the original Apple Extended, they're crap!

I don't get it. I've read many many reviews that say the Apple Extended II is the best keyboard Apple ever made. Whoever wrote those reviews must not have tried the original Apple Extended (M0115) or the ADB Apple Keyboard (M0116). For feel, my ranking of Apple keyboards would go like this:

1. Apple Keyboard (M0116) - smooth and "clacky", not too firm - perfect
2. Apple Extended (M0115) - similar to M0116, but requiring a bit more pressure (a little too much for comfort)
3. Apple Extended II (M3501) - less precise feel than M0115, shorter key travel, more "mushy" and indistinct

What a disappointment. (...another victim of internet hype)

salamontagne
March 4th, 2010, 06:27 PM
The model M,IMHO is the best ever made.

My friends still like to hear the story about how an old friend of ours (now deceased, sad) was
totally whacked out on PCP one night and came down to my basement, looking for a fight.

I detached the cable from the model M (With my custom pink/black/gold flake paintjob) Whacked him over the head with it, then proceeded to plug it back in and go about finishing up
working on some HTML for my page.

Needless to say, the guy had about 8 stiches in his head. Keyboard 1, PCP-guy, 0

'Nuff said :p

It was working up untill i lent it to a friend of mine....I gotta try and get it back....

Unknown_K
March 4th, 2010, 09:47 PM
The model M,IMHO is the best ever made.

My friends still like to hear the story about how an old friend of ours (now deceased, sad) was
totally whacked out on PCP one night and came down to my basement, looking for a fight.

I detached the cable from the model M (With my custom pink/black/gold flake paintjob) Whacked him over the head with it, then proceeded to plug it back in and go about finishing up
working on some HTML for my page.

Needless to say, the guy had about 8 stiches in his head. Keyboard 1, PCP-guy, 0

'Nuff said :p

It was working up untill i lent it to a friend of mine....I gotta try and get it back....

I would believe that if you said some keycaps popped off in the process.

saundby
March 5th, 2010, 11:30 PM
The Victor 9000 did have a very good keyboard. The machine was designed to out-IBM IBM, after all. I got to use them while employed doing typewriter repairs in a shop that sold the Victors.

Mr.Amiga500
March 6th, 2010, 05:12 AM
The Victor 9000 did have a very good keyboard. The machine was designed to out-IBM IBM, after all. I got to use them while employed doing typewriter repairs in a shop that sold the Victors.

Thanks. Now I'm even more obsessed about finding one. If it feels as good as it looks, then it's probably my idea of the ultimate keyboard. It has the old-style thick plastic, double-shot keys, with spherical (not cylindrical) keytops, centred text, black, white and cream. I'd love to be able to convert one for PC use. (somehow)

Any other good keyboards out there? Has anybody tried the BASIS-108, Memotech MTX or Wicat 150? What about the SUN-1?

k2x4b524[
April 7th, 2010, 08:29 PM
I'd believe him regardless, the model m keycaps i deal with are a pain to get off. now the MODEL F is a real head banger/door knocker, whatever you have in mind

amigalynx
May 19th, 2010, 05:57 AM
My favorite keyboards to date :
-The one on my Newbury Data NDR 9500 terminal (circa 1983). It has black Cherry sliders (=linear). It is very silent and smooth, and I can almost just let my fingers touch the keytops to type. Very nice. And its unusual layout (well, different from a post-1985 microcomputer, that is, but almost the same as a Televideo 925/950/...) puts the Escape key nearer from the rest of the keyboard, which is a treat for a VI user. You can see it here (http://amigalynx.9online.fr/images/ndr9500/clavier_sale.jpg) (don't worry, it was cleaned the following day!)
-A rubber-dome Hewlett-Packard keyboard which has caps, num and scroll lock LEDs on the related keys (circa 1995). Yes, it's a cheap rubber dome model, it's not even closed with screws but with cheap plastic clips (a nightmare to open) but I love it. Totally unlike the Newbury Data, the contact is made at the very end of the travel. What makes it special is that it's very precise : at the exact end of the dome "click", the contact is made, and you can't press the key a single millimeter further by pushing harder (which you can with every other rubber dome keyboard I've used), it's really blocked ; I really like that "hard stop". The cable is on the right side of the keyboard instead of the rear, which I found more practical in many situations. The key rows are very staggered, which I am not sure whether I like better or not.
-A NMB clicky keyboard (ca 1995). The clicking is not made by the contact mecanism itself but by a kind of plastic pin sliding in a zig-zag rail. The consequence is that by pushing really slowly a key, you can type a key without (=before) making it click. Still, it's usually not a big deal and it's a very nice keyboard for who likes to literally "strike" keys, typewriter-style...
-The Amiga 500 keyboard. Nice linear action. I also like the distinctive, bowl-like shape of the F and J keys. The 600 and 1200 do not feel as good.

I like when key action is light. Keyboards with keys I really find too stiff include the Apple //e keyboard and a mid-nineties clicky Dell...
I'd really like to try a classic IBM though!

Mr.Amiga500
May 19th, 2010, 08:19 AM
-The Amiga 500 keyboard. Nice linear action. I also like the distinctive, bowl-like shape of the F and J keys. The 600 and 1200 do not feel as good.

I love the Amiga 500, but I'm not too thrilled with the keyboard. The keys are sprung and upward pressure increases the more you press down. Typing can be tiring. The key plastic is thicker than any other Amiga keyboard, but the letters are pasted on, rather than the dye sublimation used in other Amiga keyboards (meaning they can eventually rub off). It is possible that there were multiple versions of the Amiga 500 keyboard though.

My favourite Amiga keyboard is the Amiga 1000 - which I think was made by Cherry. It has a nice light and smooth feel. The key plastic feels a bit cheap though. The NMI Amiga 2000 keyboard is not bad either. It has very shallow keys and short travel, but smooth linear feel (a bit stiffer than the A1000). Again, it has cheap plastic keys though.

Mr.Amiga500
May 19th, 2010, 08:25 AM
I've recently bought a TRS-80 Model 100. The keyboard is very nice to type on. It has double-shot keys, but not as high quality plastic as keyboards like the TRS-80 Model III, Kaypro or TI-99/4A. It has a bit of a loose feel, like the stepped "Type 1" (narrow "O") Atari 800XL keyboard.

I must say, I absolutely love the look, feel and sound of the early TI-99/4A keyboard - with its awesomely crisp double-shot keys. There were multiple versions of this keyboard (some had slightly rounded keys), so here's a picture of the one I mean:

3628

TCM
May 21st, 2010, 08:30 AM
I suppose I like the Northgate Omnikey best. The Gateway RT-3602 is also pretty good, though not as heavy-duty. I agree that the TI-99/4A keyboard is well-designed, especially considering it's from 1981. Right now I happen to be using an old XT/AT generic keyboard that's just starting to wear out after almost 20 years...

Mr.Amiga500
May 21st, 2010, 08:48 AM
Unfortunately, the TI-99/4A has one of the worst layouts of any keyboards I've ever used. I don't think I've seen any other keyboard without a backspace key (delete). To delete, you have to press FCTN + S. Common keys like question mark, apostrophe and quote are also missing and need to be entered using FCTN.

I really like the clickiness of the IBM XT keyboard and it would be a favourite, but that layout is annoying too. 90% of the time, I accidentally press back quote instead of Enter and backslash instead of left Shift. (not to mention the lack of separation of the numeric keypad and unnecessarily shrunken keys)

MV75
May 21st, 2010, 09:42 PM
The best keyboard ever made to me right now is my MS natural keyboard 4000. Previous to that was my original natural keyboard. Everything prior to that was just a keyboard. Yep, I'm talking from a typing perspective, can't stand rectangles. I even bought the "cheap" MS natural keyboard especially for a data entry job I had in 2008 that I took in everyday and used instead of their standard things. :) I'd just move their crap to the side and plug mine into a front usb. It's still going as my "LAN" keyboard now.

Unknown_K
July 23rd, 2010, 08:47 PM
I just got a Tandy Enhanced keyboard (sounds clicky), how do they rate?

gsteemso
July 26th, 2010, 01:51 PM
While I wouldn’t recommend it as an ergonomic wonder, rather the opposite in fact, the first keyboard I used extensively was the one on the family Commodore SX-64. It’s amazing what you subconsciously expect as “the right way for a keyboard to feel” after something like that.

In other news, I own a variety of Apple-branded extended keyboards (including at least models M0115, M2980 and M3501), and they vary enormously in quality. The one I like best is the M0115, which seems to agree with Mr.Amiga500’s impressions.

Kagusaki
January 9th, 2011, 11:38 PM
Best keyboard for me is the Northgate Omnikey Ultra. Bought it at a thrift store for $2.50. I also have a SIIG Suntouch clicky keyboard I got from one of my coworkers as a bday gift a few years ago. It has an AT to ps/2 adapter on it right now. Love typing on those keyboards. It sounds like a machine gun is going off in the apartment when I type lol Right now I'm using a DELL 0W7658 black keyboard. It's a pretty good for a rubber dome keyboard. Love the design. The laptop I'm using doesn't have any ps/2 plugs so I can't use my clickies. I went to frys with my Suntouch keyboard and the comp tech guy tried all the ps/2 to USB adapters and none works >.<

Holmes
January 19th, 2011, 07:30 AM
Definitely the IBM Model M is one of my absolute favorite keyboards. I love the elegant design, sturdiness, and precision feel. Typing on it is therapeutic for me! But, it can be deafening.

But, lately I've really taken to my iMac keyboard. I just love the modern design, short key travel, quiet action, and very solid design on account of its metal construction.

bettablue
March 11th, 2011, 07:52 PM
I do have to somewhat disagree with you. The only respect that gives the best keyboard to the model M is the layout. True, it does use a membrane to make contact for registering key strokes, but in my opinion, the older model F keyboards layout puts that model in a solid number two position.

eeguru
March 16th, 2011, 09:52 PM
I agree the F may be better, but the layout makes it impractical today. I'm typing this on one of the 4 M's I own (IBM '86 & '88, Lex '93 & '94) so I'm obviously a fan.

Northgate offered me a Omnikey for less than half price when I bought my 386 but I stopped using it soon after for the '88 M. That's 22 years of casual computing (home), a dozen plus good cleanings, and still going strong!

JohnElliott
March 17th, 2011, 01:48 PM
I agree the F may be better, but the layout makes it impractical today.

If you don't like the layout of Return and Backspace, it's possible to rearrange them, with parts from a donor Model M keyboard. And if you need more function keys, there's always the 122-key Model F.

Anonymous Freak
March 17th, 2011, 03:31 PM
I don't get it. I've read many many reviews that say the Apple Extended II is the best keyboard Apple ever made. Whoever wrote those reviews must not have tried the original Apple Extended (M0115) or the ADB Apple Keyboard (M0116).

Where have you seen a review extolling the Extended II? I always knew it was the original Extended that was king.

I also really like the original ADB Apple Keyboard that came with the Apple IIgs (A9M0330). Same good feel as the M0116, but with Control to the left of 'A', where it belongs. (And a smaller 'frame' around the outside. Reminds me a lot of the "Happy hacker" keyboards available now.) I still use it on my B&W Power Macintosh G3, the last desktop Mac to have an ADB port.

here (http://popcorn.cx/computers/apple/peripherals/input/keyboards/) is a site with some good pictures of it.

Mr.Amiga500
March 17th, 2011, 06:47 PM
Where have you seen a review extolling the Extended II?

Lots of sites, but mainly:

Wired Magazine (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/05/a-tale-of-two-k/)
"The AEK II is still thought by many to be the best keyboard ever made."

Low End Mac (http://lowendmac.com/misc/05/0103.html)
"Many Mac users from way back in the legacy era consider the old ADB Apple Extended Keyboard II to be the best keyboard Apple ever made."

I think the AEK II is crap compared to the original.


I also really like the original ADB Apple Keyboard that came with the Apple IIgs (A9M0330). Same good feel as the M0116, but with Control to the left of 'A', where it belongs. (And a smaller 'frame' around the outside. Reminds me a lot of the "Happy hacker" keyboards available now.) I still use it on my B&W Power Macintosh G3, the last desktop Mac to have an ADB port.

Yes, I heard the original Apple IIgs keyboard was good. I don't like the key shape though. If it feels the same as the M0116, then I'd prefer that. (I really like the M0116)

Mr.Amiga500
March 17th, 2011, 07:05 PM
I also really like the original ADB Apple Keyboard that came with the Apple IIgs (A9M0330). Same good feel as the M0116, but with Control to the left of 'A', where it belongs. (And a smaller 'frame' around the outside. Reminds me a lot of the "Happy hacker" keyboards available now.) I still use it on my B&W Power Macintosh G3, the last desktop Mac to have an ADB port.

I just looked at my M0116 and the control is to the left of 'A', so I don't know what you're talking about there. I also think the frame on the M0116 looks better than the IIgs keyboard.

I occasionally connect my M0116 and M0115 to my Amiga 3000 and PC using the Griffin iMate.

Unknown_K
March 17th, 2011, 10:55 PM
The Apple extended is very nice, I like clicky keyboards.

FastRobPlus
April 6th, 2011, 03:23 PM
Unfortunately, the TI-99/4A has one of the worst layouts of any keyboards I've ever used. I don't think I've seen any other keyboard without a backspace key (delete). To delete, you have to press FCTN + S. Common keys like question mark, apostrophe and quote are also missing and need to be entered using FCTN.

I really like the clickiness of the IBM XT keyboard and it would be a favourite, but that layout is annoying too. 90% of the time, I accidentally press back quote instead of Enter and backslash instead of left Shift. (not to mention the lack of separation of the numeric keypad and unnecessarily shrunken keys)

I just (2 weeks ago) built a like-new Amiga 500 from parts of other Amigas (don't worry I kept them all, just averaging the best parts into one system)
It took a lot of elbow grease, but I got an early A500 NMB keyswitch keyboard cleaned and restored. It's absolutely awesome! It has a near perfect travel and a satisfying "clack" sound.

Chuck(G)
April 6th, 2011, 04:02 PM
I really like the clickiness of the IBM XT keyboard and it would be a favourite, but that layout is annoying too. 90% of the time, I accidentally press back quote instead of Enter and backslash instead of left Shift. (not to mention the lack of separation of the numeric keypad and unnecessarily shrunken keys)

It's funny how a keyboard "click" is perceived.

The operator's console on the CDC 6000-series mainframes had a "clickless" keyboard, but there was a speaker mounted under the keyboard that produced a "clunk" every time a key was pressed (there was even a volume control that could be accessed through a hole in the underside). It felt right, even though the sensation was completely artificial.

http://www.mentallandscape.com/Computer_CDC1s.jpg

hcmoss3
April 12th, 2011, 06:08 PM
You guys are out of my league, but I do have a few observations. I started computing on an Apple II and my first computer was a PCs Limited 286 AT clone.

I am a big strong guy with big hands, so I want and need a keyboard that has tall sturdy keys, well separated, with concave tops. I too love the old keyboards like the one that came with my first computer, but I feel compelled to accept the modern "enhanced" style layout just so I can get along in the real world. I would love to switch to Linux (Ubuntu, I am at least halfway there already) so losing the "Windows" key is not a deal-killer, but I am too old to adapt easily to multiple simultaneous keyboards. The laptop is horrid of course, but it can't really be helped, although I do plug in a real keyboard and mouse at every opportunity.

IBM post-M models, such as the KB-8923 that I am typing this on, are reasonable, cheap, available substitutes. They are plenty sturdy if not completely bullet-proof, have good solid feel, if slightly heavier because of the rubber layer, and are much easier on other people's ears. And they are heavy enough to not slide around on the desk, even if they are not weapons-grade. The later, lesser KB-7953 is not too bad, and even its final KB-9910 version is still far better than the crap that you buy now.

Since I am lucky enough to have access to yard sales and thrift stores, none of this stuff costs me very much, and when I find something I like, I stockpile backups.

But now I am going to commit the real blasphemy - and admit that I have an "internet" keyboard that I REALLY like. That's right, it has buttons on the top for odd things like email and music. Here it is: the Compaq SK-2800.

This beige & gray monstrosity came with Presarios circa 2000-03. The primary keyboard has a look and feel much like this IBM 8923, and the buttons across the top are rubbery horizontal ovals. I will admit, I am a sucker for rubber buttons. When I find a calculator with rubber buttons instead of slick hard ones, I am in heaven.

These buttons are ones I actually use: a set of music buttons Play/Pause, skip Forward/Back, volume Up/Down, and, most important, Mute. The 7 "internet" buttons are programmable, with Browser in the center and email at one end. I have the others set for Windows Explorer, Word, Excel, Photoshop, and Wikipedia. After getting used to one quick stab with the finger opening my major applications, it seems dreadfully awkward and slow to have to resort to multiple mouse movements and clicks to accomplish the same thing. Dreadfully slow, and clumsy.

There are a couple of weird buttons that must be something like "sleep" but I have never tried to use them. My computer is on if I am using it, and off if I am not.

This keyboard does require a driver, it takes a small amount of looking online to find it, but no problem in XP. I worry that it will not work in 7. In Linux it is listed as "supported", but I have not yet tried to make it so.

I hate gimmicks, and owned the keyboard for quite a while before programming the buttons, but "internet" and "email" originally worked by default, and they made it soooo fast and easy that I realized that it would be good to have more convenience for opening the programs I use every day.

I am not a gamer, or anything like that, but even you crusty old grizzly bears might find something to really like in the Compaq 2800.

Mr.Amiga500
May 11th, 2011, 07:48 AM
Now that my main computer is a dual G5 Mac (bought to run both OSX and eventually MorphOS), I can't use my awesomely uber-clicky IBM AT Model F. That's going to be left on my BeOS computer, which probably won't get much use anymore. On the Mac, I'm using the Apple Extended Keyboard (M0115C, made in USA), connected with the Griffin iMate.

http://img705.imageshack.us/img705/3338/dualg5.jpg

Technically, I could connect the AT Model F (or Model M), but would be missing the important Apple command keys. The AEK is probably the best possible keyboard I could use.


It's funny how a keyboard "click" is perceived.

The operator's console on the CDC 6000-series mainframes had a "clickless" keyboard, but there was a speaker mounted under the keyboard that produced a "clunk" every time a key was pressed (there was even a volume control that could be accessed through a hole in the underside). It felt right, even though the sensation was completely artificial.

http://www.mentallandscape.com/Computer_CDC1s.jpg

That sounds like the "key beep" on my Kaypros and DEC - although, even with the nice little beep noise, I still wouldn't mistake them for "clicky". Some people call any non-rubber-dome keyboard a "clicky" keyboard (as seen in thousands of eBay ads), but I'd only ever consider a keyboard "clicky" if the keyswitch made a snapping click, like the IBM patented buckling spring (or beam spring) switches. I don't consider the sound of "bottoming out" of keys to be the same thing as a "clicky" switch.

I've bought many keyboards because they were supposed to be "clicky". I've read many web pages where they describe the NeXT keyboard as clicky, but they were wrong. They were wrong about the Apple Extended Keyboard (and AEK II), the SGI granite and the Tandy 1000. Most of those keyboards are nice, but certainly not clicky.

Mr.Amiga500
May 11th, 2011, 08:07 AM
But now I am going to commit the real blasphemy - and admit that I have an "internet" keyboard that I REALLY like. That's right, it has buttons on the top for odd things like email and music. Here it is: the Compaq SK-2800.

This beige & gray monstrosity came with Presarios circa 2000-03. The primary keyboard has a look and feel much like this IBM 8923, and the buttons across the top are rubbery horizontal ovals. I will admit, I am a sucker for rubber buttons. When I find a calculator with rubber buttons instead of slick hard ones, I am in heaven.

These buttons are ones I actually use: a set of music buttons Play/Pause, skip Forward/Back, volume Up/Down, and, most important, Mute. The 7 "internet" buttons are programmable, with Browser in the center and email at one end. I have the others set for Windows Explorer, Word, Excel, Photoshop, and Wikipedia. After getting used to one quick stab with the finger opening my major applications, it seems dreadfully awkward and slow to have to resort to multiple mouse movements and clicks to accomplish the same thing. Dreadfully slow, and clumsy.

Hi hcmoss3! Welcome to the forum. :D

You like rubber keys? Yes, that is blasphemy. However, I understand liking one-button application launching. I'm not a fan of "media keys", but on my Amiga I used to set up useful applications on the F keys and Help key. It's annoying that now "modern" operating systems reserve these keys for OS functions, forcing you to use multi-key combinations.

hcmoss3
May 12th, 2011, 05:38 PM
Since I made the original post, I have dusted off the Omnikey 102, a Dell AT101, and I procured a Model M. I have started a new love affair with these clicky keyboards, and the Dell (black Alps sliders) is particularly nice. I alternate between it and the Model M.

However, I do really miss those "internet" keys and especially the ones that control sound (when the phone rings, MUTE used to be a single keystroke away). And, when I was referring to the rubbery keys on the Compaq, I was referring to the rubbery texture of the top of the keys (soft, rounded, but good traction) not rubber domes as an underlying mechanism.

I have also gotten a couple of keyboards at thrift stores with odd sliders that were really terrible, so I understand that all sliders are not created equal. For that matter, I have 2 Dell AT101s (one is an AT101W with Windows keys) and the difference is night and day. I 'm not sure if it is age, wear, or dirt, but one is smooth as silk while the other one is a bit harsh.

njroadfan
May 12th, 2011, 06:52 PM
longtime IBM KB-8923 user here. Purchased new in 1997 at Computer City (RIP) and still going strong, it was originally sold under the "IBM Basics" brand. Great tactile feedback, but definitely not clicky like a Model M, it does have the Windows keys though. For the Macs I have quite a few Apple Extended Keyboard IIs. They are tanks, and many have been dropped onto the concrete basement floor without ill effects. I might have even killed a few bugs with them too, they make a fairly loud "thunk" when hitting the desk.

vwestlife
May 14th, 2011, 12:33 PM
longtime IBM KB-8923 user here. Purchased new in 1997 at Computer City (RIP) and still going strong, it was originally sold under the "IBM Basics" brand. Great tactile feedback, but definitely not clicky like a Model M, it does have the Windows keys though.

Those are identical to the infamous beige Dell "QuietKey", which are plentiful in dumpster heaps and thrift store shelves everywhere. I believe Chicony was the OEM. Ironically those are far superior to IBM's own non-clicky version of the Model M2 (the slimline PS/1 keyboard), which feels like a flimsy toy, not much better than an Atari ST keyboard.

carlsson
May 14th, 2011, 12:39 PM
Just for the sake, I happen to use a Dell QuietKey right now. However last week I "restored" my old Keytronic AT keyboard, which I'm planning to plug into my KVR through an AT-PS/2 adapter any day now. I must admit though the touch in the restored Keytronic was much more squishy than I remember it, so I might find it is not really superior to the QuietKey after all.

bettablue
May 16th, 2011, 07:22 AM
The IBM model M was designed with the buckling spring over a membrane. When the spring buckles, a hammer attached at the bottom of the spring rotates downward forcing the membranes to make contact.


lol wut? Are you sure about that? I could have sworn the Model M was entirely mechanical. Mike! Little help? :p

Mr.Amiga500
March 20th, 2013, 08:14 AM
I think my 5-year quest to find "The Best Keyboard Ever Made" has finally reached the end with this:

http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/6381/beaming.jpg

It's an IBM 3270 terminal keyboard - beam spring with triple-shot keycaps. It feels like a higher quality Model F - very clicky, but more substantial. The keycaps are spherical (white keys are angled by row) with a lightly textured top - and feel as solid as dice.

http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/9237/aplmk.jpg

The case is metal and the keyboard weighs over 10lbs. It's really everything I wanted - old style keycaps, solid quality, great feel, even perfectly useful layout (after modifications). Switches are slightly less springy than the Model F (possibly because this keyboard has had much use) and the key travel is slightly shorter. I haven't yet decided which switch is the "ultimate best" for feel, but including the keycap feel I definitely prefer the 3270 over the Model F. Of course, the major disadvantage is that this keyboard is not yet USB-compatible... but I'll be working on that.

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2013, 08:49 AM
So, you use APL?

I'm still looking for a Displaywriter keyboard. I recall those as being very substatial.

Mr.Amiga500
March 20th, 2013, 09:02 AM
So, you use APL?

I'm still looking for a Displaywriter keyboard. I recall those as being very substatial.

Ha! No, I don't use APL - but I'll definitely check out one of the free Mac APL compilers once I get the keyboard connected. (...just so I can use those keys)

The Displaywriter keyboard has the same beam spring switches as the 3270.

Compgeke
March 20th, 2013, 11:41 AM
I honestly feel like these Beamspring keyboards are quieter than the Model F and Ms, using a Model M myself on my desktop and you can hear my typing through two walls.

If anyone ever manages to get these working I would gladly try and make one work on my desktop. I do believe I seen your image if the APL keyboard on Deskthority, although I'm out of time to check at the moment.

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2013, 12:26 PM
Tell me where to get one and I'll devise a converter for it.

Mr.Amiga500
March 20th, 2013, 02:20 PM
Tell me where to get one and I'll devise a converter for it.

That's a good deal. OK then, here's one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-Display-Station-Terminal-Keyboard-Model-7362149-/151010587930

(It's not the Displaywriter you're looking for, but at least it's beam spring. Does that count? ;))

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2013, 03:21 PM
Too rich for my blood for a keyboard, sorry.

gslick
March 20th, 2013, 03:45 PM
Too rich for my blood for a keyboard, sorry.

Listed by "vintagecomputermuseum" so of course it is too rich for the blood of any normal person.

Maverick1978
March 20th, 2013, 04:29 PM
I think my 5-year quest to find "The Best Keyboard Ever Made" has finally reached the end with this: <snip>
Got a build log on this? - would love to see the details of your modifications for this one.

Mr.Amiga500
March 20th, 2013, 04:31 PM
I honestly feel like these Beamspring keyboards are quieter than the Model F and Ms, using a Model M myself on my desktop and you can hear my typing through two walls.

Your beam spring is quieter because you probably haven't removed the protective rubber sheet under the keys. Once you remove that (and you should because it's usually disintegrating and wrecks the feel), it's definitely louder than the Model M.

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2013, 08:37 PM
Listed by "vintagecomputermuseum" so of course it is too rich for the blood of any normal person.

Particularly when I picked up my pile model Ms NOS for about $10 each.

Chuck(G)
March 20th, 2013, 08:41 PM
Wire-wrap wire is traditionally silver-plated and wrapped around gold-plated posts. However, I don't think the telco stuff is gold-plated. The point is to use sufficient tension to get a gas-tight connection with the corners of the posts. With heavier wire like 24 or 22 gauge, you're probably best off using an electric wire-wrap gun.

Mr.Amiga500
March 26th, 2013, 01:22 PM
Here's a shot of the IBM 3270 (3278?) terminal keyboard with paint removed (flip cover not replaced yet):

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/4695/metal3270.jpg

Mr.Amiga500
March 27th, 2013, 03:19 PM
Tell me where to get one and I'll devise a converter for it.

What if I tell you where to get four?

Here (http://www.ebay.com/itm/261183703794) and here (http://www.ebay.com/itm/251251361278).


(...yes, I know... "too rich for your blood"...although these aren't meant to be taken intravenously)

Chuck(G)
March 27th, 2013, 05:01 PM
...I like the "these units have not been tested" on the $140 starting bid one.

(in other words, this could well be a hunk of slag, but it looks pretty)

Mr.Amiga500
October 5th, 2013, 07:40 AM
Just to update this thread, there is now a USB controller available for these IBM beam spring keyboards:
http://deskthority.net/resources/image/9029

You can read more about it here (http://deskthority.net/workshop-f7/beamspring-usb-controller-t6044.html).


So now, I can finally use "The best keyboard ever made" (TM). :cool:
http://deskthority.net/resources/image/9145

bettablue
October 18th, 2013, 07:47 PM
I know the IBM Modem M is widely considered the best keyboard ever made. I've tried one and it is very nice. I'm wondering if there were other keyboards from that era or earlier that were even better, but nobody talks about them because they were on an obscure computer or terminal that wasn't popular. Hopefully somebody here has experience with the old and unusual computers and terminals of the 1970s and early 1980s. (I know there were lots of old crap keyboards too)

In my (very limited) experience so far, it seems the order goes something like this (ignoring crap keyboards):

buckling spring - IBM Model M (and variations)
Alps switch - SGI (and others)
Cherry switch - Amiga 1000
Mitsumi - Amiga 3000 (used to type this), Atari 1200XL

I'm especially interested in the old keyboards with keys made out of thick shiny plastic (usually black or brown like the Atari 1200XL). Was there an old keyboard with the IBM Model M feel - or better - but with thick high-quality plastic keys? (did any have metal keys??)

I have to agree with your original assessment regarding the IBM Model M. But to take it just one step further, I would surmise that the particular Model M with part number ending in 401 has got to be the best-of-the-best! There is just something about the feel, starting with the weight, of the internal steel plate that ads another layer of stiffness, and rigidity to the overall design. After that, there is one more item to consider. Having a 401 Model M complete with a "bolt modded interior" not only keeps the weight, but the bolt mod adds another layer if stiffness and rigidity not afforded by a non-modifies keyboard.

I love my "bolt-modded model M without exception, and consider it to be the absolutely the best-of-the-best"! I can't see myself using any other keyboard, for any reason.

Mr.Amiga500
October 19th, 2013, 05:02 AM
I have to agree with your original assessment regarding the IBM Model M.

I didn't say the Model M was the best, but that I knew it was considered (by others) to be the best. When I made that original post back in 2008, I hadn't yet tried a Model M. In the 5 1/2 years since that post, I've tried hundreds of keyboards (yes, hundreds - computer museums, antiques, my own growing collection of 50+ keyboards) and learned about all the various switch types. My original "assessment" looks a bit pathetic now.

Anyway, I'd say the Model M is maybe still in the top 10 - after the IBM beam springs, various obscure 70's terminal/teletype keyboards and the Model F.


But to take it just one step further, I would surmise that the particular Model M with part number ending in 401 has got to be the best-of-the-best

You mean the 1391401? ( I'm typing on one now.) Isn't that the most common part number for the Model M?


I can't see myself using any other keyboard, for any reason.

You can't see yourself typing on a IBM beam spring? ;)