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Model M Keyboard
Love it? Hate it? Don't know what it is?
jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 2:54 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've just gone back to the future.

Here's the anthesis of Brett's "soft keyboard" post.

Just replaced my Logitech wireless keyboard with a modern version of the classic IBM Model M. (Has the "Windows" and "menu" keys, and a USB interface - produced by the company that acquired the patents from Lexmark, which acquired the patents from IBM).

What is the IBM Model M? It's the classic IBM "AT" keyboard, with the "clicky" keys. IBM patented the "buckling spring" mechanism which is responsible for it's unique feel. Though I can't prove it, I would imagine what IBM had in mind was to replicate the feel of the Selectric keyboard.

Whether you love or hate typing on it, you have to admit, it throws off an aura of solidness. I suspect this keyboard was as responsible for the success of the IBM AT as anything. I just love things that have that certain "snick".

Not sure if this is going to help or aggrivate my aching knuckles, but one thing I noticed right away - a 10-20 WPM increase in typing speed. (I measured it - 70wpm on the Logitech, and 80-90 on the Model M.)

I did give some thought to the Thinkpad-type keyboard. As mentioned in the previous article here, you can get that keyboard in a desktop configuration. Not bad for a notebook keyboard, but it's always seemed a bit too petite for me. (I have an A31p Thinkpad, so was able to try it out.) Maybe the desktop version has larger spacing. What killed that for me is it only seems to come in black. I like seeing the keys at night, thank you!

Anyone else here use a classic model M, or one of the modern versions? I'm curious if there is a big difference - there seems to be a difference of opinion on this - some claim the modern ones just aren't the same as the classics. I have to admit, it doesn't seem *quite* the same, though it's hard to judge - it's probably been 15 years since I've had my fingers on a Model M.

Oh, for the ultimate coolness factor, I ordered a set of re-legendable keys - clear covers fit over special blank keys. My intention is to replace the keys on the numeric pad (who uses those?) and use some key-remapping software. Not sure what I am going to put there, but I suspect "copy" and "paste" are my first candidates.

BTW, a major urban legend about these keyboards is that they are either mechanical or capacitive keyswitches. I don't think any were ever produced with mechanical switches, though a few early ones were indeed capacitive. Nope, they are just rubber dome, like just about any keyboard made today.

The magic is all in the buckling spring. When the spring buckles on the way down, you know that it has made contact (not because you are hearing it make contact, but because the spring has been engineered to buckle at a point where positive contact has been made.) Once you hear the sound, you can release the key without fully bottoming the key out. Only had the thing for a day, so I haven't yet gotten back the light touch that is all you need.

Enough with the soft keyboards! Anybody else have a favorite "clicky" keyboard?

 

phranque

WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 1:11 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

i'm still holding onto a type m because i know it will still work in 50 years.
it was my son's keyboard from ages 5 through 10 and you can't tell he ever used it!
that was after a few years as my first pc's keyboard and a life at an actual ibm office before that.

however i prefer a split keyboard and i never liked the clicks - at least now i know why they are necessary!

jimbeetle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 3:24 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Though I can't prove it, I would imagine what IBM had in mind was to replicate the feel of the Selectric keyboard.

As far as I know the Model M was based on Selectric technology. Heck, if you already have a good thing, why reinvent it?

The Model Ms are about the only keyboards I really feel comfortable with. Back in my years in the Army during the dark ages most of my typing was done on manual telegraphers' mills and teletypes set to where you really had to pound the keys. The Model Ms were made to "type hard" and stand up to a good pounding.

I like my keyboards straight, no wavy, curly stuff. The only things they've been making like that the past few years are the $20 cheapies. Up until about a year or so ago I was running through those at about two or three a year. Then last year I picked up a 1989 Model M on eBay (new, in box). What a difference! This is a real piece of equipment, has a lot of heft to it and really takes a pounding.

zCat

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 5:29 pm on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oooh, I want one. But I have a Mitsumi brand keyboard dating from about 1992, which appears to be a knock-off of the IBM design with a different key mechanism. Despite that it's far better than any other keyboard I've come across, and the thing just keeps on going. Even the keycaps show no signs of wear.

jtara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 6:52 am on Dec 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Back in my years in the Army during the dark ages most of my typing was done on manual telegraphers' mills and teletypes set to where you really had to pound the keys. The Model Ms were made to "type hard" and stand up to a good pounding.

I learned to type on some awful mechanical typewriters in a Junior High typing class. We had an old Underwood at home, which, believe it or not, was an improvement! I also fooled around with teletype when I was into ham radio in high school/college (I had a Model 19).

(I suppose you did "TTY jokes" in the Army? "Boys and girls may kiss and kiss, but boys and girls may never do this: FIGS LTRS FIGS LTRS FIGS LTRS FIGS LTRS")

These beasts are probably why to this day I still hit the "o" and "p" keys with my middle finger. (I am left-handed - no problem with "q" and "w"). I just could never hit the "p" hard enough with my right pinky. I just realized recently that I hit the "o" with the wrong finger as well.

Trying to fix that - there's no reason today, even on the Model M.

Matt Probert

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3188225 posted 11:14 am on Dec 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

And not just the keyboard. I had an IBM AT which was till in regular use (24/7) 14 years after it was manufactured. It started life in a bank, getting lots of use, and then came to me. A steel case you could drive over and a robust keyboard. Pure quality engineering. How many modern PCs are expected to last three years, let alone fourteen?

Matt

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