Announcement

Collapse

Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.


Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.


Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.



Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.


Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.


Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.


Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.


New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.


Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

What is "The Best Keyboard Ever Made"?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    What is "The Best Keyboard Ever Made"?

    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??)

    #2
    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.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Trixter View Post
      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...)

      Comment


        #4
        What?!?? No love for the keyboard of the Sinclair ZX-81 (T/S 1000) ????
        "Well this film wastes no precious screen time with a plot!" -- Crow (from MST3K), while watching Red Zone Cuba

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Mr.Amiga500 View Post
          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.

          Comment


            #6
            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?
            sigpic

            Comment


              #7
              @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.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Vlad View Post
                lol wut? Are you sure about that? I could have sworn the Model M was entirely mechanical. Mike! Little help?
                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. . .
                The Vintage Computer and Gaming Marketplace
                The Vintage Computer

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Erik View Post
                  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.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by vwestlife View Post
                    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.
                    The Vintage Computer and Gaming Marketplace
                    The Vintage Computer

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Sun 3/60

                      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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Mr.Amiga500 View Post
                        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

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Erik View Post
                          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/tec...ngspring_e.htm

                          Comment


                            #14
                            @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)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              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.
                              Come to the dark side...we have cookies.
                              Wanted: Somebody to buy alot of my stuff
                              AT&T PC 6300 site

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X