The One Keyboard

published on 2006-11-25 in computing

Before reading this, just go to eBay and buy one now. You'll get a jump on the rest of the people that continue reading for another 30 seconds.

Anyway. So, while building my new desk last weekend, I took it upon myself to clean up my old keyboard. It's my daily workhorse and has been for 12 years now. Hrmm. That's unusually long for electronics. Doing the math on that piqued my curiosity and I did a little bit of research...

It's an old generic PC-AT model based on an IBM model M...similar to the ones that came with the original IBM PC-AT computers. I've had it forever...I bought it in 1994 from a ham radio swap meet in Tennessee. For $1. Yes, one dollar. It was used when I bought it, I guessed it was a couple years old. But it was exactly what I was looking for at the time...."one of those keyboards that felt like the old typewriters in high school typing class that had a good click to it". I cleaned it up and have been using it ever since. It's got an awesome tactile response and the audio feedback is superb. It sounds like an Uzi when I'm in 'the zone'. It's heavy and feels great to use. I took it apart, washed it and put it back together, good as new. They don't make keyboards like that anymore.

I had never really put much thought into why I liked it so much until I did the research above. Which made me question how old it actually is. So I looked up the FCC ID on the bottom of the thing. Turns out it was made in 1986 by Chicony Electronics Co Ltd, in Taipei, Taiwan. It was imported into the US by N. Kokenias of the Electro Service Corp in San Mateo, CA.

Wait a sec?! This thing is over 20 years old? How has it lasted this long? Why do I like it so much? Why do new keyboard suck so much? A few Google searches later I discovered that I am not the only one that knows the powers of this type of keyboard. Check this out: Some excerpts:

IBM model M keyboard - a hardware device designed and based on IBM mechanical typewriter design, said by some to be the</span>best example of keyboard design, engineering and construction. Each key has an individual micro-switch which uses a buckling spring mechanism to transform human force into an electrical signal.

Buckling spring key-switch keyboards are technically superior because they provide visual, tactile, and auditory feedback. Rapid typing occurs as a result of one finger completing a key stroke, while another finger is preparing the subsequent key sequence, and other fingers are preparing to convert the user’s thoughts into action. Each key has an individual weight to it, and experienced typists can apply sufficient, but not extra, force to achieve their goal.

Many computer professionals, prefer to use the one true standard of computer keyboards. Designed by American mechanical engineers, in contrast to new-age designers and focus-group marketing "experts". Many vintage IBM keyboard enthusiasts have purchased one IBM model M keyboard and have been using the same one keyboard for decades.

WOW. Well, that settles it. Now I know why I have always hated every other PC keyboard in existence. My Mac keyboards are nice, especially the laptop models, but still no where near the feel and response of this old IBM model M clone. So, rush out and try to find one on eBay before all the nerds that know about The One Keyboard snatch them up. More keyboard elitism like mine can be found here:

Tags: keyboards