I finally broke down and bought a classic buckling-spring keyboard. Not one of the new ones from Unicomp, but a gen-u-ine IBM Model M manufactured in 1986. Removable cable, solid enough to use as a murder weapon, the real deal.
Goddamn, I’d forgotten how good these things feel to type on. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
(I already had a Unicomp keyboard. Yes, it turns out the real IBM model is better. However, since it’s pre-Windows, it doesn’t have the Windows or context-menu keys on it. If you really wanted those keys, the Unicomp is a fine choice–certainly better than the cheap keyboards you normally find nowadays. I purchased the IBM keyboard from Clicky Keyboards.)
For a moment, I thought this was going to be a keyboard like the one I had at an old job of mine, but it’s not.
That one had a metal casing and must have weighed a good 15lbs. The keys were loud as hell when you hit them, and instead of the function keys F1-F12, it had PF1 through PF24. It plugged into the terminal with a sorta RJ-45-looking plug. Anyone have any idea what kind of keyboard that might be, and if it’s still possible to get one (and if it would even work with a modern PC)? I loved that thing.
I have three of those keyboards at work. One hooked up to my docking station and two more stashed away, just in case. There is none of that did I or didn’t I hit the key. You know when you have hit a key.
From the sound of it, probably a glass TTY keyboard, probably not a DEC or VT, and unless someone’s made a converter it’ll only work as the text-mode keyboard on a Linux/Unix box and even then only if you have the terminal monitor that goes with it.
Other than the metal case, you’ve pretty well described an original 3270 terminal keyboard. (or, as **Zeriel **described it, a glass teletype.
My former cube neighbor maintained a real IBM 3270 terminal with a real Token Ring connection at his desk as a backup and/or back door into the mainframe if the regular LAN-based ways were down. The whole floor would know if there was a system problem, just by the noise. He moved away about six months ago, but abandoned the terminal as the network people were giddy at the idea of being able to get rid of that one last Token Ring connection and refused to consider moving the line.
Right now, I’ve got an IBM keyboard as well. The label is gone, but think it was from their “Easy Options” line about 10-12 years ago. Nice touch, not too noisy, but it doesn’t have that ‘pink’ to it. More than once, I’ve taken it apart and run its non-electronic parts through the dishwasher. It’s about due for another bath to get rid of several years of coffee and dust.
Yep, that’s it. Like I said, the Unicomp ones are good enough if you want a new keyboard that you can actually purchase easily without waiting for one to show up on the used market.
Unicomp is actually a spinoff from Lexmark, but the design changed somewhat over the years, and the old ones (made by IBM, not Lexmark) are better, but they don’t have the Windows keys–it’s a tradeoff you’ll need to decide on.
Hmm. Mine has clickey keys. It’s from Logitech. I guess I never really thought about it before, but I do hate the pretty much flat key ones. I have a strange style of typing and can’t type worth a bit on those.
If it’s USB, it should work fine, just with the caveats about the “Windows” keys, but you can go into Preferences and swap Command vs Control keys. I do this all the time for the Mac-wary so they don’t have to do the mental and finger swap. (And count me in the crowd that doesn’t care for any of the keyboards Apple has made in the past five years or so.)
Looking at Unicomp, their Customizer 104 and Space Savers are available in USB. There are also PS/2 to USB adapters that will probably work with a Mac (USB should be universal…) , but I have no direct experience with them.
Well damn, now I’m curious. I’ve been looking around and can’t find my old keyboard anywhere. Not even a picture. The metal was the most distinctive part of it. The keyboard was probably about 1.5-2 inches thick at the top and sloped down, and 15lbs. was a lowball estimate.
The only thing I could find that even looked close to it was the one in the black & white photo here.
A satisfying loud click, combined with high responsiveness and…blank keys! (in the Ultimate edition. Used to be they all came with blanks. Looks like they’ve started making lettered ones for the non-133t).
An old professor of mine once told me that the term “hit a key” was once intended pretty literally. It was used when writing documentation about one particular model of keyboard–he actually stated which model it was, but I’ve since forgotten the details–that happened to have particularly stiff springs, so you had to strike the keys harder than you expected.