Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 8th Jul 2018 19:42 UTC
IBM

The IBM Model M was a keyboard was first released in 1985 as a cheaper successor to the Model F. It's hard to imagine a keyboard more expensive as Model M keyboards cost a bomb even in those days but it's true.

The Model F was based on a very durable capacitive buckling spring but was expensive to produce hence IBM made the Model M with a lower-cost membrane buckling spring model. At the same time, the Model M pioneered the ANSI 101-key layout that is still in use today. This keyboard was also the first one to utilise the PS/2 connector which would go on to be in service for decades.

The Keyboard.

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Unicomp
by fmaxwell on Sun 8th Jul 2018 20:46 UTC
fmaxwell
Member since:
2005-11-13

http://www.unicomp.com/

Modern-day versions of the buckling spring IBM keyboards. I'm using their Mac-specific model. Works great.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Unicomp
by loic on Sun 8th Jul 2018 21:09 UTC in reply to "Unicomp"
loic Member since:
2012-09-23

Unicomp keyboard are overpriced garbage.
Sure, they feel like the model M, but just open the case and you will see what you lost. You got to destroy actual pieces of plastic to access the keyboard membrane! And you know, they removed the gutters from 90s model Ms which means that if you spill a drink over it, you can throw your keyboard in the bin , you will have successfully destroyed its membrane. Or you can pay for repairs, unless you are European then you are on you own.
Man, as a owner of an azerty 122 keys 1986 IBM model M keyboard, I will tell you: just buy a modern Cherry MX Blue (for the clicky fun), or a Cherry MX clear mechanical keyboard. These are everywhere, high quality and easily repaired or replaced.
Don't throw away your money, these Unicomp guys do not deserve any of it. There are real makers of high quality mechanical keyboards these days, all around the place. Don't fall for the bad ones.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Unicomp
by maxmalkav on Sun 8th Jul 2018 21:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Unicomp"
maxmalkav Member since:
2016-01-22

You got to destroy actual pieces of plastic to access the keyboard membrane!


Just like any other IBM model M, Grey or Blue label. Accessing the membrane requires to break the plastic rivets that keep the barrel plate and the metallic plate together, requiring some bolt modding later to put them together again.

Actually these plastic rivets have a tendency to break down with age (requiring the so-called bolt-mod)

I have quite some Model Fs, Ms an Unicomps, while not as sturdy as the classic ones, Unicomps are not that bad (actually quite nice for the price).

Edited 2018-07-08 21:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Unicomp
by loic on Mon 9th Jul 2018 06:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Unicomp"
loic Member since:
2012-09-23

My point about the gutters still holds. There was a good reason an anti-spill feature was added to model m. And the original model M had none of that awful cheap double sided tape. And the key dying is quite irregular.
My point is that these are only cheap copies of model M and that you can buy durable mechanical keyboards, or even build your own for less than that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Unicomp
by cade on Mon 9th Jul 2018 01:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Unicomp"
cade Member since:
2009-02-28

I had a unicomp buckling spring keyboard and was fine for about 3 years. I write software and this keyboard was used alot; no drinking/eating around computer. I really liked the feel/sound of the keys. Later, a couple of keys were malfunctioning. Yes, you have to "damage" the keyboard during disassembly. At the time I was not aware of the potential "issues" with the cheaper membrane design and I ended up throwing the keyboard away (except for keys, buckling springs and hammers). Later, I found out about the "nut and bolt" fix for these membrane-based buckling spring keyboards and was not happy that I had thrown my unicomp keyboard to the trash. I am a fix-it type of guy and would have looked forward to applying the "nut and bolt" fix.

Once you do "mechanical" you really cannot go back to membrane-only type keyboards, since the latter would be a crime against your fingers.

Prior to realising the "nut and bolt" fix, I decided on sampling the Cherry MX-switch route.

Initially I bought a Cherry MX green ten-key-less (CM Storm) keyboard as my main coding board; back in the early days of MX greens (costly). Later I bought a very much cheaper-priced blue-clone-switch (ZERO E-sports gaming gear) keyboard for my second box. Both keyboards are definitely better than cheapo-membrane/chiclet keyboards.

Due to experience on Model M (unicomp) keyboard, I had acclimatised and preferred heavier switches. As such, I prefer the MX greens (took a few days to accept this switch as my "goto" switch) very much over the cloned/MX blue switches; the blue switches are too light but, still, bearable. Still, I miss my "Model M".

I have seen new Model F

https://www.modelfkeyboards.com

and respect it is a better design (non-membrane, capacitive).

However, the Model F's actuation force may be lower than the Model M's actuation force and possibly feel too much lighter than my MX greens. The MX greens are relatively heavy (especially coming from or going to blue switches) and probably represent a decent clicky/tactile-based approximation to a buckling spring keyboard, but .... I remember the buckling spring having a different/interesting feel/sound.

I'd have to test (or extensively read about) the Model F and then decide on the Model F or get a Model M ("nut and bolt" fixed version or I perform the fix myself ). I'd use the next Model M/F as a replacement for my current blue switch keyboard (blue switch keyboard to be used as a backup keyboard).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Unicomp
by fmaxwell on Tue 10th Jul 2018 02:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Unicomp"
fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

Unicomp keyboard are overpriced garbage.
{snip}
Don't throw away your money, these Unicomp guys do not deserve any of it. There are real makers of high quality mechanical keyboards these days, all around the place. Don't fall for the bad ones.


If the Unicomps were not good keyboards for the money, I would not have recommended them. I am a very experienced user of mechanical keyboards with keyboard switches by IBM & Unicomp, Cherry, Alps, Matias, and many Chinese knock-off brands. I started writing software in the mid 1970s.

That's probably why I agree with the Matthew Murray
Managing Editor, Hardware, PC Magazine, who wrote:

"The Unicomp Ultra Classic earns its name: It really is every bit as good as the IBM Model M keyboard it's been designed to so closely emulate."

Reply Score: 0

RE: Unicomp
by ssokolow on Sun 8th Jul 2018 21:10 UTC in reply to "Unicomp"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

I'm using a 104-key Unicomp unit from 2005 that I grabbed on eBay and I have an eBay watch set so I can pick up a spare pre-2013 104-key unit to supplant the Rosewill board with Cherry MX Blue switches that got demoted to my spare.

(In 2013, Unicomp reordered and shrunk the modifier key block on the right-hand side to better fit with the muscle memory of people used to 101-key Model M keyboards.)

I just wish someone would offer something with Model F switches in a modern US104 layout. Heck, if for nothing but nostalgia, I wish we still had the Model F keyboard from my childhood.

Edited 2018-07-08 21:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Unicomp
by paride5745 on Mon 9th Jul 2018 09:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Unicomp"
paride5745 Member since:
2017-07-16

These guys have remade Model F:
https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/

But they are "a bit" expensive...

Reply Score: 3

Do love mine
by Lennie on Sun 8th Jul 2018 21:33 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

Just don't use it much, because they are not very quiet.

It is and feels very durable.

We used to joke at the office: you could easily kill someone with it (I guess it was implied by hitting them in the head).

Edited 2018-07-08 21:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Do love mine
by Doc Pain on Mon 9th Jul 2018 00:23 UTC in reply to "Do love mine"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I've started using mine (IBM Model M from 1990, black label, german layout, HIL plug in the back) after the Sun Type 7 keyboard I was using for several years broke. The only thing I believe I'm missing is the function key block 2x5 on the left. That's why I'm planning to use a BOSCOM 5250 which also has the "Model M keys", and I got a bunch of them for less than 1 Euro each from eBay - so I'm probably not paying $100 for one. :-)

The 5250-alike offer is this:

http://www.pckeyboard.com/page/FeaturedProducts/UB40B5A

The only thing I'm going to do is to replace the uniform silver-grey keys with the white and grey ones from a real IBM 5250 keyboard, so there is a visual separation especially in the function key area (because the BOSCOM doesn't have it, just like the Unicomp model). This makes it easier to access a specific function key, and as I use them regularly, this should make things easier. I also have a box of spare keys with "strange" captions and symbols, so this is going to be a very nice and unique layout.

Another problem, though:

The "cross" for the cursor keys is a terrible idea. I plan to remove the "cursor down" key and map its function to the center key, so there's finally the "inverted T" shape which is much more convenient than the "cross".

Luckily, the BOSCOM keyboard has a jumper inside with which you can switch from "preprogrammed mode" (all keys send a specific key or key combination) to "programmable mode" (each key sends an individual code). This makes it very easy to remap keys as desired, and I can then assign the intended functions to the keys just as I want (manipulate window states, start programs, control volume, logout, power off, etc.). This was easy with the Sun keyboard, it's similarly easy with the BOSCOM one.

But I will definitely not give away my original IBM keyboard. It will still work when my dead body has turned into dust. :-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Do love mine
by maxmalkav on Mon 9th Jul 2018 09:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Do love mine"
maxmalkav Member since:
2016-01-22

Willing to sell one of those BOSCOM? ;-) I like the 122-key Ms, but something with black case would be "awesomener".

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Do love mine
by Lennie on Mon 9th Jul 2018 10:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Do love mine"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

The Sun Type 7 keyboard is also a fine keyboard, works very differently. But definitely enjoyable too.

Sounds like a nice little project.

Yeah, I also think the original IBM keyboard will probably last longer than us. :-)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by andywoe
by andywoe on Mon 9th Jul 2018 01:10 UTC
andywoe
Member since:
2018-05-18

Model M user here too, although I had to stop using it during Skype calls due to noise complaints LOL.

I'm noticeably more accurate with Model M, the feedback you get is just superb.

Reply Score: 2

Really a keyboard is very much like shoes.
by oiaohm on Mon 9th Jul 2018 03:08 UTC
oiaohm
Member since:
2009-05-30

Just like shoes there are cheep ones that kind of fit and then there are well made ones that fit particular people.

I am a cherry mx blue or razer green kind of person. What is 55cN keyboard resistance at worst point under 45cn general. All the buckle spring I have attempted to use are too heavy for me. When I say too heavy I attempt to hit key and its not registered because I have not hit the key heavy enough.

For gaming I find the razer green better due to shorter actuation point.

Please do not mix up cherry mx green for razer green. Cherry mx green is still slightly lighter than buckle spring they the same weight as a Cherry black(so Heaviside) with tactile feed back. Where are razer green is as light to lighter than a Cherry blue.

Yes Cherry MX green keyboard if you can find them(They are rare) I do have key misses on Cherry MS green just not as often as a buckle spring.

Something else here if you are having to put o rings on a Cherry MX style keyboard you are in fact hitting the keyboard too hard/too far. Yes if add o-ring to a cherry mx keyboard and noise reduces either you need to train to type lighter or you need a different key type to what that keyboard has.

The biggest cause of RSI from typing is over driving the keys and hitting the back of keyboard switch with force. A person who thumped keyboard switches into the back to absolutely stopping point day in day out with have high odds of RSI than a person who has not.

Fitting the O-rings on a Cherry MX at least reduces the force of that impact.

Most buckle springs if you are over driving them there is nothing you can do about the impact you will be having.

The start impact force on a buckle spring and all the Cherry MX and clones is all about the same. When you hit the top of key how much impact that is what I am calling the start impact force.

Also over the day typing your arms will thank you if the over all weight is lighter.

You see a lot of videos on youtube what have my teeth grating because they are testing a cherry blue and most of the sound you are hearing is them incorrectly typing and hitting the back of the switch. Same with typing on a cherry red/black/brown. Properly typing on a cherry red or black should be soundless if there is a sound you are either hitting too far/hard or a switch is broken.

You can spend as much as you like a keyboard and it will help you if you type like a jack hammer all the time attempting to drive out the back of it.

Also you can spend as much as like on a keyboard and it will be no use for you if it too heavy.

And finally if it too light in resistance for you the the keyboard is not going to do you any good either.

A person can train to type on a heaver or light resistance keyboard. From RSI prevention you only want to train to use lighter if possible.

If you are trained for a heavy resistance keyboard and you are given a light resistance keyboard its not going to do you any good long term with RSI. You can think of this as keyboard equal to wearing a size too small shoe. Unlike a shoe attempt to train to correct action or just like a shoe you should change to a different keyboard.

A person trained for a light keyboard having to use heavy resistance keyboard is annoying but as not long term bad. This lines up to a person wearing a shoe a size to big. Annoying but not that harmful as long as it not forever.

Understanding this explains why there is no such thing as a 1 size fits all keyboard yet. Yes once a person is use to a heavy resistance keyboard changing back to light resistance keyboard can be very hard.

Also some of your cheep membrane keyboards by design are pure bad. Having to impact back of keyboard is bad.

Some of the table on screen keyboard gorilla arm is that people are thumping the glass tablet screen. Of course that got almost absolutely no give. Gently touch the screen and tolerate typing slower. I really do wonder how long until we see cases of touch screen caused IRS from people thumping the screen.

Reply Score: 3

Poseidon Member since:
2009-10-31

About the sound you say about them being loud and bottoming out, that's not really true. A lot of manufacturers have a horrible sounding keyboard due to the material of the base, regardless of how hard they're hitting it. Some started placing a plastic to reduce the noise, but I found the sound that all keyboards make is significantly different based on the materials used for keys and base.

So far, my favorite is Coolermaster's, soundwise. Feelwise, even though it's the loudest keyboard ever, the oldest Corsair Vengeance K70 is perhaps my favorite, you can tell easily what you're doing as long as you don't have very long and very thick fingers, because their keys are kind of small in overall size.

Reply Score: 2

oiaohm Member since:
2009-05-30

About the sound you say about them being loud and bottoming out, that's not really true. A lot of manufacturers have a horrible sounding keyboard due to the material of the base, regardless of how hard they're hitting it. Some started placing a plastic to reduce the noise, but I found the sound that all keyboards make is significantly different based on the materials used for keys and base.

So far, my favorite is Coolermaster's, soundwise. Feelwise, even though it's the loudest keyboard ever, the oldest Corsair Vengeance K70 is perhaps my favorite, you can tell easily what you're doing as long as you don't have very long and very thick fingers, because their keys are kind of small in overall size.

I have reworked a Corsair Vengeance K70 once. Reworked as in having to open up every single switch. Don't know what happened in one batch the plates in the inside was not clipped in properly. Yes the switches worked but had a rattle from hell. You could have a Corsair from that batch. Please note if you have one of those it is the true rattle from hell you pick up the keyboard shake it loud rattle instead of the normal mechanical light rattle. So yes there are two very different sounding groups Corsair Vengeance K70 and one group has a broken set of switches.

Cherry MX switches are normally mounted into aluminium plate. Please note there are meant to be mounted into a particular thickness bit of aluminium to be mounted to specification some parties have cut corners on this.

As I said Cherry MX reds are meant to be close to slient. This is that they were mounted to cherry specifications. You do find a quite a few keyboards where the is a extra noise and it is mounting issues. Coolermaster does in fact obey cherry specification to letter.

When you are wanting to listen for chassis defect you don't want to be hearing thump into back of switch.

I will give you there are a lot of makers who don't do everything right when they make the keyboards. As I said with youtube reviews there are a lot where you are not clearly hearing release noise because what you are hearing is key thumped into bottom out and then hitting top from there as well. This makes my teeth basically grate because you are not really hearing keyboard being used correctly.

Really I would love to see some form of automated review using like a using a solenoids to push the keys 2mm to activation and rapid release. Then would be able to compare chassis to chassis with keys hit correct amount and be able to sort them by noise level.

Reply Score: 4

Yep
by Poseidon on Mon 9th Jul 2018 03:57 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

This is the keyboard that made me basically only want to type on Cherry MX Blues because it's the closest thing to it there is for cheaper and with a couple of more modern features.

I can handle Cherry MX Brown for work if silence is needed, however, nothing, absolutely nothing comes as close as being such a satisfying ensemble of feel and sound as the Model M.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Yep
by loic on Mon 9th Jul 2018 07:07 UTC in reply to "Yep"
loic Member since:
2012-09-23

Then you should really have a shot at cherry MX clears. While these are not clicky, their actuation force (55 cN) , tactile force (65 cN) and peak force (95 cN) make them quite comparable to model M buckling spring (actuation 60-65 cN), but silent on a well designed keyboard with a proper metal plate.

Reply Score: 2

Working perfectly after 30+ years
by Mikaku on Mon 9th Jul 2018 08:13 UTC
Mikaku
Member since:
2007-05-03

Hey!,

Since it looks like from time to time people love to make an article about the venerable Model M, let me detail my stock ;)

I have 5 IBM keyboards Model M (PS/2 connector with blue and grey labels), all them from different PS/2 machines from the early 90s. I daily use all these 5 keyboards and they are all working exactly the same as 30 years ago. Perfect.

I also have 2 IBM PC/AT (5170) and the same IBM Portable PC that appears in the article. The last time I turned them on was 10 years ago or so, and they were also working nice (with MS-DOS and SCO Xenix OSes).

IBM did a great job with these keyboards (and machines).

Reply Score: 2

blinkenlichten
by owczi on Mon 9th Jul 2018 08:44 UTC
owczi
Member since:
2009-11-04

In order to avoid saying Das Keyboard™, you could have said Die Tastatur Thom ;-)

Reply Score: 2

The "Golden Mean" of Keyboards
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 9th Jul 2018 16:44 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

In my opinion, the Model M is the "Golden Mean"/"Just Right" (in the Goldilocks sense) keyboard. I personally think that Alps switches have a nicer typing feeling, but they also tend to be much more susceptible to wear, dirt, etc - a clean & well-maintained Alps board is nicer to type on that a Model M, but a dirty & poorly-maintained Alps board is almost as nasty to type on as cheap rubber domes.

I suspect that's due to Alps switches being much more complex than the relatively-simply buckling spring mechanism: there's simply more moving pieces to wear out & collect dust/dirt, etc. While the Model M actually seems to get better with age: I replaced my Model M with a Unicomp equivalent a few years ago, and found the switches on the new unpleasantly stiff at first. They definitely seem to benefit from 6-12 months of "breaking-in."

Reply Score: 4

v Comment by KennethMarshall2018
by KennethMarshall2018 on Tue 10th Jul 2018 10:51 UTC