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Larry Browning
01-26-2016, 12:37 PM
Have you ever used one of these? If so, then hopefully you will understand my passion for them and my dislike for all others.
For those who are not familiar with Model M keyboards, these were originally developed by IBM to be used on the old IBM Selectric typewriters and also on their mainframe work stations. These were heavy duty industrial strength keyboards using what is called a buckling spring key. So when IBM came out with a PC they used this same technology for the keyboard. There is absolutely nothing that even comes close to the solid feel of of the keys and quality and heft of these keyboards.

My beloved Model M that I have used on literally every PC I have ever owned in my life (that's about 30 years worth) had the space bar key die:(. The model M is still being manufactured by a company called Unicomp and they have brought it into the modern world by making it with a USB connector and added the Windows key to the layout, but somehow it is just not the same.

So after doing some internet research, I decided to try to fix it. And do the "IBM Model M keyboard nut and bolt mod". (Google it)

Would anyone be interested in hearing about my journey down this path? (It is still going on BTW)

This probably will not interest those that think keyboards are not important and any old $15 keyboard will do.

roger wiegand
01-26-2016, 1:49 PM
I guess they're great if you can stand the noise! (I couldn't and converted to something quieter as soon as I could.)

Part of the solution to a chronically sore elbow was to go over to a split keyboard, and there are darn few of those that are useable; I babied my original Microsoft Natural through many generations of computers.

If you have a keyboard you like it is definitely worth repairing. I'm sure you've found the companies that specifically recondition the IBM model M. They have quite the following.

Larry Browning
01-26-2016, 1:56 PM
I guess they're great if you can stand the noise! (I couldn't and converted to something quieter as soon as I could.)


The "noise" doesn't bother me at all, in fact I kinda like it. It's more like music to me. It's the "mushyness" of the "quiet" keyboards that I can't stand. "Different strokes for different folks"
People that are high speed typists (not me) tell me that they can achieve their highest speeds with less typos on a model M.

Ole Anderson
01-26-2016, 2:37 PM
It has been over six years, but when I was working and using AutoCad I loved my keyboard with at least 20 programmable extra function keys and they had a nice click to them. Just can't remember the brand. They ran about $150.

William Adams
01-26-2016, 3:25 PM
My favourite keyboard.

I won't mention how much I paid for a Korean IBM keyboard 'cause I had to have it --- it's still at my desk in my den.

glenn bradley
01-26-2016, 3:31 PM
The "noise" doesn't bother me at all, in fact I kinda like it. It's more like music to me. It's the "mushyness" of the "quiet" keyboards that I can't stand. "Different strokes for different folks"
People that are high speed typists (not me) tell me that they can achieve their highest speeds with less typos on a model M.

Give up Larry. Many of us that started our relationship with computers in "heavy iron" shops just have a different view of these things. I loved those old metal housing, clicker beasts ;-)

John McClanahan
01-26-2016, 3:51 PM
I have both the 84 key and 102 key versions. Both have detachable cords and I have both DIN and ps2 cords. My longtime favorite keyboard is a Wang that I've had since the early 90's.


John

Larry Browning
01-26-2016, 3:59 PM
I have both the 84 key and 102 key versions. Both have detachable cords and I have both DIN and ps2 cords. My longtime favorite keyboard is a Wang that I've had since the early 90's.
Ah! Here's a guy that knows his Model Ms. Actually the one I am refurbishing has the non-detachable PS/2 cord and was made in the UK. The one I am typing on now has the coiled detachable cord and was made here in USA. It does say "Made by Lexmark for IBM" though. Mfg date of 16-SEP-94. That's almost 22 years and it still looks and works like the day it was new.

Larry Browning
01-26-2016, 4:10 PM
Give up Larry. Many of us that started our relationship with computers in "heavy iron" shops just have a different view of these things. I loved those old metal housing, clicker beasts ;-)
Oh, I know! The young bucks around here where I work just don't get it. A keyboard is just an after thought to them. They would rather have one that is wireless and all lit up with pretty lights and a thousand buttons and wheels. The quality of the design and workmanship is lost on them.

Steve Peterson
01-26-2016, 4:23 PM
I know exactly how you feel Larry. I may have missed the original model M, but joined the party soon after. Computers cost between $2000 and $3000 with the keyboard as the primary interface to the user. It makes sense to have a really good keyboard at that price point. I like the solid mechanical feel, but could live without the noise.

Steve

Chris Padilla
01-26-2016, 4:29 PM
Go for it, Larry! Personally, I hate the noise a keyboard makes as I find it quite distracting but I'm a sensitive guy according to my wife (and not in the right areas according to my wife!) :D I have to ask all my neighboring cube mates to turn their speakers off whenever they starting buzzing, dinging, ringing, etc. for things happening as they work on their computers. It drives me bonkers! Even my phone is silent for typing and most things. :D

Larry Browning
01-26-2016, 6:05 PM
Go for it, Larry! Personally, I hate the noise a keyboard makes as I find it quite distracting but I'm a sensitive guy according to my wife (and not in the right areas according to my wife!) :D I have to ask all my neighboring cube mates to turn their speakers off whenever they starting buzzing, dinging, ringing, etc. for things happening as they work on their computers. It drives me bonkers! Even my phone is silent for typing and most things. :D

The keyboard "noise" is the sound of work getting done. If I don't hear it then you must be just staring at the screen. Maybe in deep thought, but more likely watching another silly cat video on youtube. (or in my case, reading an SMC thread)

Mark Blatter
01-26-2016, 6:09 PM
I learned to type on the old Selectric typewriters. In fact I loved it when my mother bought one with the auto-correct on it so I didn't have to keep pulling out the white tape. My first computer was IBM XT so I presume it had the keyboard you are talking about. Progressed up the chain to an IBM 55, so on and so on. My first laptop was a Compaq with a green screen.

Yeah, I miss those solid keyboards too. I also like to hear the letters click as I type. It allows me to look elsewhere while I type and not at the screen. Used to drive my old boss crazy that I could type while talking and looking at him.

John K Jordan
01-26-2016, 7:32 PM
Working in software and then 3D modeling/animation I was extremely particular about my keyboards. My efficiency was MUCH higher with the right keyboard. When I found one I liked I bought a lifetime supply of spares. I have also taken apart and repaired keyboards many times - it is usually a mechanical issue and not an electrical problem.

Once when a key quit working found a bug in the switch - literally. I have no idea how that tiny moth got inside but it sure did keep the switch contacts from closing.

JKJ

Kev Williams
01-26-2016, 8:45 PM
Hintz will probably lose his lunch if he see this... ;)

I live by the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it- or clean it, or anything-else-it" rule... ;) And while the old M keyboard may be a gem,
what can you say about this 1989 Cherry, that's been used nearly every day since I got it -came with one of my
3 New Hermes Vanguard engravers. I used to clean it once in awhile, but it's been at least 10 years since the last time.
I still have the other 2 keyboards, and they work fine, this one has gotten so bad to look at that it's become an experiment
in longevity! But as bad as it looks, the thing works better than any of my wireless keyboards. It simply refuses to quit working!
And every key still works, even the one with the missing "Del Line" keycap! If I DID clean it, I'd probably kill it... :)

330357330358330359

I have a question: who's bright idea was the "chiclet" keyboard? I can't think of a more useless piece of computer hardware...

Howard Garner
01-26-2016, 9:33 PM
Nothgate made a keyboard that would compete with the IBM M.
I miss mine.

Howard

Duane Meadows
01-26-2016, 10:09 PM
Nothgate made a keyboard that would compete with the IBM M.
I miss mine.

Howard
I had one of the Northgate keyboards, really liked it. It had the old 5 pin Din connector... won't fit anything I have now and the adapters are rather a pain.

Gotta admit that the newer ones are quieter! I have been using a Microsoft Keyboard for the last 10-12 years or so. Would really hate to see it die, but I can live with the newer cheapies if I must. Already do on my Ham Shack PC!

Myk Rian
01-26-2016, 10:42 PM
I have 3 or 4 of those IBM KBDs. They are all I use. Bought my newest one (USB) at Walmart when they closed them out. I think it was about $80.
They all have the wrist pad.
Taking a look at the bottom, it says Model M 1984. I love these things.

Curt Harms
01-27-2016, 9:55 AM
The Model M keyboard isn't dead!!!
Check out these guys:
http://www.pckeyboard.com/
Ultra Classic White Buckling Spring USB

Note where the company is located - Lexington KY. where Lexmark made the later Model M keyboards. They also make what they claim is a high quality quiet keyboard:

Quiet Touch R/D



While we specialize in making buckling spring keyboards, we do offer most of our models with a rubberdome (R/D) keyswitch for users who want the other benefits our products offer but don't want the audible "click" and tactile feel of the buckling spring version.. Those include the robust design, integrated mouse devices, customized layouts , and custom microcode. We call our rubberdome keyboards Quiet Touch (QT).

I don't have either so can't vouch for them but the buckling spring model is on my 'someday' list. I bought a used Microsoft "internet keyboard" for $7 at a computer place. It uses a PS2 adapter which is a little bit of a pain but has a pretty decent tactile feel and isn't too loud.

Larry Browning
01-27-2016, 10:07 AM
Curt,
I am very well aware of Unicomp. They are keeping the Model M alive. They own the rights to the buckling spring key switch and are still manufacturing them. If you do not own an original Model M this is the place to get the next best thing. Actually these keyboards offer a couple of nice advantages over the original model M. You can get them with a USB connector and also with the extra windows keys.
There is also a web site dedicated to all things Model M, where you can buy authentic Model M keyboards, replacement parts and they even have a repair service. There is a wealth of information on this site. http://www.clickykeyboards.com/

Dan Hintz
01-27-2016, 10:10 AM
Hintz will probably lose his lunch if he see this... ;)
330359

Eye twitch city!!!

I was going to mention Unicomp, but it looks like I was beaten to the punch.

Brian Elfert
01-27-2016, 12:12 PM
A co-worker has a model M keyboard and loves it. I found another one when cleaning out a storage closet, but he didn't want a spare. I put the keyboard in recycling, but I don't think the recycling has been picked up yet. I should probably save it after reading this thread.

I personally use mechanical keyboards with the Cherry blue key switch. I have three of them as I work at two different offices and also have one at home. I use the Rosewill version as they are least expensive and seem to work fine. Cleaning crew at work broke one and they replaced it.

Keith Outten
01-27-2016, 12:28 PM
I own one of the keyboards that came with the original IBM PC, back when they didn't have a hard drive. The keyboard must weigh at least ten pounds and has the round DIN plug.
I also have one of the old ESDI hard drives, the thing is huge and is very heavy. You had to have a spacial ESDI controller board for these drives back in the day.
I think that I still have some other computer parts that I saved from the early days stored in boxes in one of my outbuildings. At one time I had one of the 8" square floppy drives :)
.

Chris Padilla
01-27-2016, 1:06 PM
LOL...you are dating yourself, Keith! :D

Larry Browning
01-27-2016, 2:33 PM
Speaking of those old floppy discs, the first computer I ever owned was a Commodore Vic 20 (yeah, that's right, it preceded to famous Commodore 64). I actually bought it at Montgomery Wards. Needless to say the sales guy was clueless. I still remember him saying "....and for just another $100 you can get the sloppy drive to store all your programs". That's when I knew he was totally clueless. I told him "That's ok, I think I can just use the $50 cassette drive for what I will be doing with it."

Larry Browning
01-27-2016, 2:50 PM
Nothgate made a keyboard that would compete with the IBM M.
I miss mine.

Howard


I had a Northgate years ago and even though it was WAY better than the mushy ones, it was no model M. Mine died a horrible death when a co-worker spilled his entire can of Sprite right on my keyboard. The Model M would have kept on working and not a drop of sticky Sprite would have gotten to the key switches, due to its unique design.

Scott Donley
01-27-2016, 3:16 PM
Well, my first computer was an ATandT 8088, no hard drive, 640k ram, 2 5 1/4 floppy's and a 300 baud phone receiver modem. Seemed like science fiction at the time. I never cared about the key board considering I could not type, still can't.

Tom Stenzel
01-27-2016, 3:38 PM
I guess I'm in the silent majority group. The keyboard I use is the ZKB-2 in the lower right hand corner, straight from the Christmas 1989 Heathkit catalog:

330444
Individual switches for each key, excellent feel. I don't know what I'll do when it up and dies.

-Tom

Keith Outten
01-27-2016, 6:02 PM
LOL...you are dating yourself, Keith! :D

I'm afraid so :)

My first computer had a cassette player to save the BASIC programs I had to key in manually so they could be used but it did have a 300 baud modem. I remember the first time I connected to a local BBS in upstate New York I thought that it was pretty amazing that my machine was talking to another machine in another town. My second machine was an IBM PC Junior, no hard drive but it had a 180K floppy disk and i spent a fortune upgrading the ram to 360K so I could setup a ram drive and be able to copy files from the floppy drive so the programs would run faster.

I think it was in 1984 that we got the first IBM computers at work that had five meg hard drives at the Niagara Mohawk Power Station in Oswego NY. Up until that time all we had were terminals to the company main frame.

Chris Padilla
01-27-2016, 6:32 PM
I'm afraid so :)

My first computer had a cassette player to save the BASIC programs I had to key in manually so they could be used but it did have a 300 baud modem. I remember the first time I connected to a local BBS in upstate New York I thought that it was pretty amazing that my machine was talking to another machine in another town. My second machine was an IBM PC Junior, no hard drive but it had a 180K floppy disk and i spent a fortune upgrading the ram to 360K so I could setup a ram drive and be able to copy files from the floppy drive so the programs would run faster.

I think it was in 1984 that we got the first IBM computers at work that had five meg hard drives at the Niagara Mohawk Power Station in Oswego NY. Up until that time all we had were terminals to the company main frame.


Speaking of those old floppy discs, the first computer I ever owned was a Commodore Vic 20 (yeah, that's right, it preceded to famous Commodore 64). I actually bought it at Montgomery Wards. Needless to say the sales guy was clueless. I still remember him saying "....and for just another $100 you can get the sloppy drive to store all your programs". That's when I knew he was totally clueless. I told him "That's ok, I think I can just use the $50 cassette drive for what I will be doing with it."

I was first introduced to an Apple I in 7th or 8th grade and then the Apple II. That would be 1982 or 1983 for me. At home, we had a Commodore 64. I even got a Timex Sinclair at one point with a large black memory box on the back. No idea what happened to it or where we got it. Good stuff!!

Dan Hintz
01-28-2016, 8:48 AM
I even got a Timex Sinclair at one point with a large black memory box on the back.

I had a Timex Sinclair... the first computer that was MINE (paid for with my own money, all others were loaners or through my father's work). Then I picked up a Spectrum for some color. At one time, I programmed with punch cards, and my first home-built system was cobbled together with breadboard, wirewrap wire, and toggle switches (set switches for the byte pattern you wanted, then press the "load" button to set memory, and the circuit I built auto-incremented the address).

Those were the days...

Larry Browning
01-28-2016, 9:57 AM
So, exactly how did a thread about the best keyboards ever made turn into going down memory lane about our first computer?

Dan Hintz
01-28-2016, 10:42 AM
So, exactly how did a thread about the best keyboards ever made turn into going down memory lane about our first computer?

Have you ever used the keyboard on a Timex Sinclair? If you had, then you would know just how wonderful a hammer to the head would feel in comparison, let alone a Model M ;)

Chris Padilla
01-28-2016, 1:14 PM
Have you ever used the keyboard on a Timex Sinclair? If you had, then you would know just how wonderful a hammer to the head would feel in comparison, let alone a Model M ;) LOL! The keyboard was AWFUL! And Larry, c'mon...keyboards are CONNECTED to computers and you're talking about an oldie but a goodie...seems a natural progression of the conversation. :D Oh, and I blame Keith! :D :D

Larry Browning
01-28-2016, 2:50 PM
Have you ever used the keyboard on a Timex Sinclair? If you had, then you would know just how wonderful a hammer to the head would feel in comparison, let alone a Model M ;)


LOL, I guess I have never had that misfortune! But I do know what a hammer to the head feels like (don't ask) and I don't want any part of that again.

Kev Williams
01-28-2016, 4:15 PM
We made our living engraving keyboard keycaps back in the 70's for several companies building computers like these-
This is a photo System Concepts sent us, circa 1977. This was one of their state-of-the-art character generators, marketed to
Television networks and local TV stations. The engineers would design 'jobs' for the computer would do-
like change letter colors, fonts, add shadows- and each job the computer did required it's own button. These guys would by keyboards from
Cherry, Microswitch and others, then build the computers around them. The keyboard companies wanted a fortune in setup costs
to injection mold off-the-wall buttons, so they'd buy blanks, and we'd engrave and paint them. As time went on and the machines got
more complicated, we'd end up engraving the tops and fronts. Double pay! There were several companies in our area building similar
computers, and they kept us real busy--1200 buttons a day sometimes- right up until 'divorced' keyboards and a dumb thing called "Windows" showed up. :)

http://www.engraver1.com/erase2/sysconcepts.jpg

Dan Hintz
01-28-2016, 6:21 PM
That's awesome, Kev... built a chroma-keying and title generator system back in the late-80s to fully understand video signals. I'd say the final product was about as full-featured as the units on the shelf. but yeah, computers pretty much took over that domain pretty quickly. All you needed was Windows, a SoundBlaster, and some chroma-keying software and you had an entire studio on your desktop.




Larry, imagine a keyboard that was as flat as a pad of paper... and with the exact same level of tactile feedback :p (unfortunately, that's not a joke, it was horrible). Here's a pic:
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The Sinclair was a huge upgrade with actual rubber keys that stuck above the bezel. The increased tactile feedback was due to the rubber crushing, not any actual Z-movement of the keys ;)
330518