What’s tougher than IBM Model M? The 1981 IBM PC’s Model F keyboard. With a 2017 relaunch, new models have the original layout.
The project, which reintroduced a contemporary keyboard inspired by IBM’s small space-saver Model F in 2017, is unveiling its second generation of premium input devices with several layouts.
Keyboard enthusiasts know about the IBM Model M. This Reg hack is typing on a 32-year-old Model M. The 1985 IBM 3161 terminal introduced the Model M.
There are new layouts for the old keyboard that was “clickier than the Model M.”
Yet, 1985 was four years after the IBM PC and a year after the PC/AT. They didn’t have Model M keyboards since they weren’t developed yet. Model F keyboard introduced PC. The early PC version has odd single-key-sized keycaps on double or triple-width keys. The 80286-based IBM PC/AT has a redesigned version with extra-large Ctrl, Shift, Enter, etc. keycaps.
This vulture knows the IBM Model M is very collectable since he saved many from being thrown away in the 1990s. Specialist merchants provide restored IBM originals and modern reproductions constructed to the original design with original tooling, but with USB ports, additional Windows keys, etc. New Model Ms cost $104. Restoration costs $195.
Nevertheless, the sought-after Model M was the cut-down, budget version produced for the fast developing PC industry, and most people first saw them linked to the brand new IBM PS/2 series in 1987. The Model F, IBM’s first clicky keyboard, is now almost 40 years old and scarcer. Worst news. A passive converter converts the PC/AT keyboard’s 5-pin DIN connection to PS/2 format if you can get one. (Who doesn’t have two in their spares box?) The original PC and PC/XT keyboards share a connection but a separate protocol. If you’re lucky, an early 1980s keyboard from about the time the ‘286 was becoming popular would feature a slider switch beneath for PC or AT mode. The Reg FOSS desk doesn’t have an adapter.
Join New Model F Keyboards. Even at $399, “Ellipse” sold over $300,000 of them in 2017.
The layout deterred the author, along with the price. The project picked two space-saver layouts from IBM’s 4704 terminal, called the Kishsaver after the collector who described it. Serious keyboard collectors love space-saving keyboards. The F77 layout features a numeric keypad but no function keys, whereas the F62 layout has 15 fewer keys and no keypad. The hip kids call it a TKL layout, which stands for tenkeyless.
The Model F project has revealed a new range, including full-size and compact 104-key layouts, which would make the FOSS desk’s bank account shiver if it weren’t an inert table in a database. Perhaps most enticing to this enormous, heavy-handed vulture, a reproduction of the 122-key IBM Battleship, which we’ve been searching for for a decade. The project sometimes uses reconditioned IBM equipment. New ones cost $420 now.
If that’s not unique enough, your correspondent is also working on a beam spring model from 1970s IBM business goods. The first new beam spring unit costs $579.