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Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the thrift-store-treasure dept.

Input Devices 519

CharlotteShma writes "Some old writer once said that in order to keep going, he needed to hear the scratch of the pen on the page. Some self-proclaimed keyboard aficionados would make the same argument for computer keyboards. Is it possible that the old 'clicky' keyboards are making a comeback? Now that we've replaced the old buckling springs with rubber domes, our keyboards are only getting quieter and quieter. According to the people at Unicomp Inc., all keyboards made since the early 1990s are, frankly, no good. They still use and produce vintage IBM Model M keyboards in their small factory in Lexington, Kentucky. The IBM Model M keyboards are ugly, built like tanks, and, most importantly, have a spring under each key which clicks when you press it." Not sure what's ugly about them — most other keyboards are ugly, when you shut your eyes.

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519 comments

Nice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348375)

Not sure what's ugly about them most other keyboards are ugly, when you shut your eyes.

WTF kind of sentence is that?

Means.. (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#27348855)

WTF kind of sentence is that?

Means that they don't like the sound of other keyboards. "When you shut your eyes"=="sound", "ugly", means, "ugly sound".

I dunno about audible feedback.... (3, Funny)

Starayo (989319) | about 5 years ago | (#27348377)

But I'm too used to using LCD miscellany on my logitech G15. If I can't see my ethernet traffic when I glance down I get rather confused. >_>

Re:I dunno about audible feedback.... (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 5 years ago | (#27348817)

I was over at a friend's house and he had one of these newfangled keyboards, and I gotta say I was impressed. Much nicer to have that info there than cluttering up screen real estate.

Re:I dunno about audible feedback.... (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27349111)

Newfangled? I used to have an Apricot computer (which shipped with Windows 1.04) which had a small LCD (40 columns, 2 lines) on the keyboard and ran a calculator, a notes program, and a few other things. The notes program, as I recall, allowed you to store notes in the keyboard and then send them as a stream of characters to the currently-running program. I can't remember the exact specs of the computer, but I'm fairly sure it was an 8086 with no hard drive and probably no more than 640KB of RAM. Certainly not what you'd call 'modern'.

Re:I dunno about audible feedback.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348883)

I like the clicky sound because it reminds me of CmdrTaco's throat-clicks he makes when deep throating all 6.5 inches of my manhood. God it feels fucking wonderful.

I'm Old-School as Hell (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348399)

All you fucking haters can suck my motherfucking dick.

And we still smokin'. What?

Re:I'm Old-School as Hell (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349087)

All you fucking haters can suck my motherfucking dick.

And we still smokin'. What?

You can't be that "old-school" if you use terms like "haters".

Fucking kids these days....

Responsive (5, Informative)

airos4 (82561) | about 5 years ago | (#27348445)

I have my Unicomp and I love it. There's nothing that gives you the same feedback in the fingertips as you type as a nice clicky board. My wife, on the other hand, hates it because - the bedroom is next to my office, and she can hear me at all hours of the night typing away. But... totally worth it.

As a bonus, I honestly feel that I get less cramping and fatigue when I'm typing happily on this rather than the crap you get most times today. Not sure if there's anything to back that up with, but I graduated from a Microsoft ergo keyboard to this and I'm far happier now.

Re:Responsive (1, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | about 5 years ago | (#27348647)

I wish there was a choice that said "Factually Wrong -1" when I mod.

Psst... that's what discussion is used for.

Re:Responsive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348925)

The reason you feel less cramping is because clicky keyboards recognize a keypress well before the key hits the end of its travel. The audible and tactile notification lets you stop your keypress earlier, preventing the sudden stop when the key hits the keyboard.

Odd that we're seeing this again (5, Interesting)

esobofh (138133) | about 5 years ago | (#27348455)

Is this company sponsoring slashdot?

Anyway.. there is definately something about feeling, but it's only really about what you are used to. I prefer a fujitsu 8725, a modern cheap-ass keyboard to more exensive ones, simply because I am used to it.

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (4, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#27348731)

    I was wondering that too. What do you have to do for that kind of advertising? Actually, it was NRP who did it first, but still, either they dumb lucked into a lot of advertising, or they paid some decent money to advertise that they make ancient keyboards.

    They've been making keyboards quieter because they used to be very loud and hard on your fingers. Then again, I learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, so for the first several years that I used PC's, I pounded on the keys, and went through a keyboard about every 6 months. If I start typing really fast (I'm usually somewhere just above 100wpm), I start pounding like I'm on the mechanical typewriter again. People usually laugh at me, and then I have to stop and ask why they're laughing.

    Lately, I've been nice to my keyboards. The lettering wears off before the keyboard fails. Who needs lettering anyways? I've thrown a few away because the alignment marks on "F" and "J" have worn off. It's hard to touch type with a mouse, when you have to look to realign. :)

 

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#27348763)

"I prefer a fujitsu 8725, a modern cheap-ass keyboard to more exensive ones"

$69 is expensive to you????

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (2, Insightful)

athakur999 (44340) | about 5 years ago | (#27348861)

When you buy a brand new keyboard for less than $5, then yes $69 is expensive.

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 5 years ago | (#27349003)

As the other poster said, it's relative.

$69 for a brand new car? not at all

$69 for a can of pop (Soda for the retarded), yeah, a bit expensive.

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 5 years ago | (#27349075)

$69 is expensive to you????

Considering I've almost never had to pay for a keyboard in my life (I still have 3 extra just sitting right next to me), yeah, $69 is a lot.

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349137)

Let's go with car analogies cause we seem to love them here.

$3.4 million is expensive for a Toyota but may be just about right for a Ferrari, BUT we're not talking about Toyota's or Ferrari's; we're talking about cars and $3.4 million is definitely expensive for "a car".

Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#27349045)

Anyway.. there is definately something about feeling, but it's only really about what you are used to. I prefer a fujitsu 8725, a modern cheap-ass keyboard to more exensive ones, simply because I am used to it.

I don't know about that. I cut my teeth on rubber dimple keyboards, and went many years using a procession of them varying from extremely crappy to occasionally quite high quality ones. Yet from the moment I first tried typing on a Model M (coincidentally or not while interning at IBM) I was hooked.

Certainly at this point ten years later I'm "used" to the IBM and that may affect my opinion of anything new, but at the same time it was not anything like what I was used to and I found it completely and utterly superior. The tactile sense just feels right.

Yes (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#27348471)

Good to here. I was trained as a touch typist, and quiet keyboards have screwed with my accuracy. I know I had an ancient IBM keyboard with the heavier, clicking keys and after a few attempts, I managed to get upwards of about 70wpm (in high school, I topped 80 a few times). On the newer keyboards I think I get stuck around 60wpm, mainly because errors count against you, and old-fashioned typing is as much about *hearing* mistakes as feeling them.

Re:Yes (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 5 years ago | (#27348615)

I was trained as a touch typist, and quiet keyboards have screwed with my accuracy.

I think I understand, but that sentence really doesn't make a lot of sense if one thinks about it, hehe.

Re:Yes (2, Insightful)

psnyder (1326089) | about 5 years ago | (#27348837)

I think QWERTY screwed up our typing more than lack of clicking. You and I type about the same (70wpm) but the errors you and I experience would probably be reduced had we learned a layout made with our fingers and language in mind, such as Dvorak [wikipedia.org].

Re:Yes (1)

BlindSpot (512363) | about 5 years ago | (#27348945)

Good to here. I was trained as a touch typist, and quiet keyboards have screwed with my accuracy.

Cool, you intrinsically proved your own statement! (Boldface added by me for illustration.)

An audible keyboard is like audible links (2, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 5 years ago | (#27348483)

They suck. I do NOT want to have sounds in my environment if it is not neccesairy. I simply hate the standard behavior of IE to produce audible feedback each time I click a link. I know I clicked the link and I know I pressed the key and I do not need the confirmation in the form of a click. I am not a retard and I do not wish to be treated like one.

The IBM model M is dead, game over and it won't be missed.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 5 years ago | (#27348633)

Mine was born on Nov. 6, 1989. Despite your pronouncement, it ain't dead yet.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (4, Funny)

scubamage (727538) | about 5 years ago | (#27348667)

Different strokes for different folks. I love my IBM model M keyboard, and the thing is still going strong though its using an adapter to fit. I like the feel, I like the sound, I like knowing I can pick up my keyboard and whack a sales guy if they really do go one step too far one day - and actually do some damage that'd justify the assault charge.

Obviously the model M is gone, but the keyboard isn't. And judging by the other posts, the keyboard is missed.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#27348785)

"I like knowing I can pick up my keyboard and whack a sales guy if they really do go one step too far one day - and actually do some damage that'd justify the assault charge."

I wonder..if these 'new' versions are made of metal, and as nice and heavy as the originals???

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 5 years ago | (#27348871)

I have to agree with you. I still have one at work... collecting dust. It got too annoying even for a seldom used legacy system and was replaced. Huge, clunky, noisy.

Some people enjoy the sound of vinyl and tubes over CDs and transistors. Some people enjoy the sound of a metal hammer on a mechanical typewriter. More power to them, but I think the hype over this antique is more than a little overblown. You would think God himself typed the 10 commandments on one.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (1)

TheDreadedGMan (1122791) | about 5 years ago | (#27348957)

amen.

I prefer quiet keyboards, but obviously not at the expense of key layout and feel...

I can appreciate the quality of the old keyboards, and the fact that they last for a long time, but the noise factor is fairly important for me too, I prefer the relative quiet of my MS Comfort Curve 2000...

The main thing with keyboards is just having a consistent layout, to this end I've purchased a Comfort Curve for work to match the one I have at home so I can be productive either end.

The main thing that irks me about keyboards in general is that the design remains relatively unchanged, for example the MS Ergo keyboard remains one of the few widely-available "Slightly" different designs... and the little feet are at the *back* of most keyboards... which seems counter-intuitive, as I would expect you want the keyboard sloped *downwards* instead of up...

I also agree with most of the points on this blog entry
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001221.html [codinghorror.com]

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (1)

kongit (758125) | about 5 years ago | (#27348975)

You can pry my Model M from my cold, grimy, dead, smelly, rotting hands. In fact I might ask to have it buried with me.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#27349107)

I do NOT want to have sounds in my environment if it is not neccesairy. I simply hate the standard behavior of IE to produce audible feedback each time I click a link.

Good thing Windows doesn't make a clicking sound every time you press a key. This is more like the physical click of a mouse button.

I don't think most folks want the click for the sake of the click. Mostly we want the feel given by buckling spring switches. If I were deaf, I'd still prefer my Model M to spongy quiet keyboards.

Re:An audible keyboard is like audible links (1)

AelMalinka (987113) | about 5 years ago | (#27349143)

For me I have a key board that "clicks" it's less about the sound it makes and much about the difference in tactile feed back the newer membrain keybaords don't push and push back like the older style keyboard with springs

I have several of the old ones (2, Funny)

reboot246 (623534) | about 5 years ago | (#27348493)

The keyboard I use weighs nearly five pounds. It has a great action and I can type for hours without tiring. When it eventually quits working I have several more waiting to replace it.

No, you can't have one . . . . . . . for any price.

Re:I have several of the old ones (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348677)

How much does it weigh after you clean it?

Re:I have several of the old ones (2, Funny)

reboot246 (623534) | about 5 years ago | (#27349115)

I don't really "clean" it. Every once in a while I just tilt it up and eat all the crumbs. It's called "break time"!

Re:I have several of the old ones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349021)

The keyboard I use weighs nearly five pounds. It has a great action and I can type for hours without tiring. When it eventually quits working I have several more waiting to replace it.

That reminds me my ex-wife.

they are pretty good (2, Informative)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | about 5 years ago | (#27348495)

By a coincidence, I just received a new keyboard from them on Monday. It feels much like the IBM Model M I'm typing this on now, but the keys feel 'looser' - there is a little more back and forth wobble on the new Customizer keyboard from Unicomp than there is on my Model M. Too soon to tell yet whether I will find it distracting or not; the new keyboard is on my game machine at home and I don't use it as often as my I use my work machines.

Comeback? They never went away (3, Informative)

sokoban (142301) | about 5 years ago | (#27348503)

This news is about 12 years old. They have been in Lexington, KY using the same old equipment that IBM used to make the Model M keyboards.

Re:Comeback? They never went away (3, Insightful)

Yamamato (1513927) | about 5 years ago | (#27348527)

Yeah, but this slashvertisement for Unicomp needs to be posted routinely, apparently.

Re:Comeback? They never went away (1)

sokoban (142301) | about 5 years ago | (#27348613)

I guess it's better than people shelling out big bucks for a "vintage" model M or a Das Keyboard.

Quality, or neophobia (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 5 years ago | (#27348513)

Frankly this sounds more like neophobia and/or nostalgia than a legitimate concern about keyboard quality.

Re:Quality, or neophobia (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 5 years ago | (#27348857)

I'd never used a buckling-spring keyboard before I got my Unicomp Model M, and I do think they're better. Especially when compared to the laptop keyboards, the extra key travel is much easier on the fingers.

That said, it's hard/impossible to do double-blind testing, so the only real data is anecdotal evidence.

On thing mechanical typewriters had (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 years ago | (#27348517)

(and some older keyboards had as well):

A mechanism to absorb the energy exerted on the keystroke.

Without that the energy ends up being dissipated in the muscles, tendons, and (especially) joints of the hand.

This is one of the factors leading to repetitive stress injuries and perhaps also accelerates arthritis.

I'd like to see a keyboard design that "catches" the key after it's pressed far enough to be detected as a "press" and consumes the energy.

If it does it by making a sound (especially if the sound has a one-to-one correspondence with the detection of the keystroke) it also provides feedback. All the better for typing accuracy.

Re:On thing mechanical typewriters had (1)

david.given (6740) | about 5 years ago | (#27349053)

I'd like to see a keyboard design that "catches" the key after it's pressed far enough to be detected as a "press" and consumes the energy.

Erm, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this.

On any keyboard, the kinetic energy of the key has to be converted into something else. Otherwise the key wouldn't stop moving. Usually part of it becomes mechanic stress in the spring, part of it becomes sound, and the rest becomes waste heat in the rubber stop. When you let go, the energy stored in the spring turns back into kinetic energy, driving the key up again, and then it hits another stop, dissipating the energy into more noise and heat.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting here. Can you clarify?

Re:On thing mechanical typewriters had (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349121)

This is one of the factors leading to repetitive stress injuries and perhaps also accelerates arthritis.

I can personally attest to this. I used IBM keyboards for five years back in the '90s, and by the end of that time, the ends of my fingers were a bit sore, and on bad days I could feel the springs inside the keys go "boiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoing" as I struck the keys. Getting better involved ditching the keyboard, among other things.

Alan

Prefer buckling dome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348523)

The buckling spring Model M can be nice but it is excessively noisy in my opinion. IBM had a hang up for a while of simulating a typewriter keyboard to appease typists. They even had some word processing workstations with a margin bell. I think the usability suffers from this mindset. When I was in college there was a computer lab filled with a hundred or so PCs all with buckling spring keyboards. The racket was almost unbearable when most of the computers were in use.

My preference is the for the older IBM rubber dome PS/2 keyboards with 101 keys. Unicomp makes these too but they can still be found brand new on eBay.

How about natural/ergo ones... (1)

CRiMSON (3495) | about 5 years ago | (#27348529)

The don't look like fucking ass, or something off a space ship.

Seriously is split keyboard and decent looking that hard to fucking do?

Re:How about natural/ergo ones... (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#27348949)

Fuck "ergonomic" keyboards/mice/etc.
They're trash and are based on hokum. Pure hokum.

I could live without the audio... (3, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#27348557)

But the tactile feedback of buckling springs is absolutely perfect. Also the nigh-invulnerability, the beverage-spill-drainage holes on later models, the resistance to stickage even after spills, the removable/cleanable keycaps, the correctly shaped enter key, lack of extraneous doo-dads, pretty much everything about them. /hugs my Model M. Seriously, I really just did, because I love it so much. I also have one at home that I love. And they don't even mind, because Model Ms are secure in themselves and not prone to jealousy.

Re:I could live without the audio... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#27348877)

I have a bunch of old Ms. I stopped using them because I didn't like the noise. If I could make the perfect keyboard for me. I would take the Microsoft comfort keyboard that I have now and add a USB hub to it for a mouse "I hate wireless for the desktop " and I would add a volume knob like may old POS HP multi-media keyboard had.
Of course other people have different wants and needs.

Modern IBM/Lenovo's Thinkpads have drain holes too (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 5 years ago | (#27348997)

As a side note, the T60 I am typing this on also has a drain hole that goes between the keyboard and the base of the notebook chassis. (It's essentially a screw standoff for the keyboard with no screw in it.)

SirWired

A co-worker has one (1)

kannibul (534777) | about 5 years ago | (#27348569)

A co-worker has one, in my department, in the office adjacent to mine.

I think he gets something out of how makes him sound busier by clicking at double his typing rate...and as a programmer, looking busy (vs actually being busy) is of the utmost importance!

His isn't the old IBM style, it's like a wierd hybrid of a ergo and an old flat - it has the split, but it is a flat keyboard.

When it dies, I wonder if I'll miss it...knowing him, he's probably got a spare...lol

yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27348587)

Bit of a slashvertisement, but I concur - unicomp's modern day plastic-shell model-m-nearly-clones are second to none (save maybe an original metal-shell model m luckily saved from a dumpster, but that won't have as many keys as a modern keyboard, which can get annoying even in linux/unix - the "windows" keys are now-traditionally the extra "Super" modifier bit under linux/unix, and now fairly widely used for keyboard shortcuts even under linux/unix).

One thing to note is they draw a fair bit more current than a cheap membrane keyboard - best get a real USB interface model from unicomp (or ask _them_ for a PS/2->USB adaptor) if you want a USB keyboard, many of the cheapest asian PS/2->USB adaptors simply don't pass enough current.

Das Keyboard (5, Informative)

taucross (1330311) | about 5 years ago | (#27348595)

I have a Das Keyboard [daskeyboard.com], based on the original Model-M design. Definitely recommended if you're sick of typing into a soggy sponge.

There is something incredibly satisfying about solving a particularly complex problem, and hitting "enter" for a crunchy click. No other keyboard satisfies my lust for tactility the way this one does.

Re:Das Keyboard (1)

SteveTauber (996603) | about 5 years ago | (#27348719)

I agree completely. I wouldn't give up my Das Keyboard for anything. Sure pisses off the coworkers too.

Re:Das Keyboard (1)

sky289hawk1 (459600) | about 5 years ago | (#27349033)

Unfortunately I can't use my Das Keyboard at work for this exact reason. I still use it at home, though it pisses off the girlfriend when she's trying to sleep and I'm doing some late night coding, or flame war debate.

How about USB/wirelessUSB? (1)

JoshDmetro (1478197) | about 5 years ago | (#27348597)

I have one of those old IBM keyboards but the AT connector sucks. Its not to often I use a computer old enough to even have an AT connector.

No split model (1)

corsec67 (627446) | about 5 years ago | (#27348601)

They don't have an egronomic/split style keyboard, which I have used almost exclusively for quite a few years now.

They do have a keyboard with Ctrl in the proper place, to the right of "A" with Caps lock, if it is even on the keyboard, down in a far corner. (The OLPC XO-1 got that part of the keyboard right, but the keys on that keyboard suck)

Re:No split model (1)

TurboNed (1370389) | about 5 years ago | (#27348685)

All things considered, I prefer "S" in that position, not Ctrl. Well, actually it's logically an "o" - but I acknowledge that the Dvorak layout is still pretty uncommon.

Max Headroom (1)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27348621)

I think the best setup is that depicted in Max Headroom. The ideal keyboard, a typewriter, hooked up through god knows what to 60's era black and white tvs. Or at least that I what I remember. Quite cool.

Matias (1)

superdan2k (135614) | about 5 years ago | (#27348625)

I've always been fond of the clicky keyboard -- the old IBM PC keyboards with the mechanically switched keys allowed me to type significantly faster than the newer stuff.

I found the Matias Tactile [matias.ca] for my Mac a few years ago, and was willing to shell out the $100 for it. Have never regretted it, either.

Re:Matias (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | about 5 years ago | (#27348699)

"I found the Matias Tactile for my Mac a few years ago, and was willing to shell out the $100 for it. Have never regretted it, either."

Tactile feedback improves performance and accuracy. There is good reason aircraft controls and switches are designed to provide it.

My model M rules (5, Funny)

ericferris (1087061) | about 5 years ago | (#27348635)

I am still using an IBM model M keyboard made in 1985. It doesn't have the Windows key, which is one more reason for me to like it.

You cannot beat the touch of a model M, and the tactile feedback helps me limit the number of fat-finger typos.

One downside of a model M is that the clicky noise might annoy coworkers in open space offices. But I have few complains. Complains are generally going like this:

Cow orker: "Eric, your keyboard is sure loud".
Me; "Yup."
Cow orker: 'Err..."
Me: "Heavy too. All metal. Feel this."
Cow orker: "Wow. At least three pounds".
Me: "Almost five, actually. And reliable, too. You can wield it as a baseball bat, whack someone's head, clean up the brain bits from the bottom, and it's still good for years of service."
Cow orker: (Gulps, retreat hurriedly.)

See why I love it?

Re:My model M rules (1)

Trifthen (40989) | about 5 years ago | (#27349013)

Isn't it great? Though I don't know to be more amused or frightened that my Unicomp weighs more than my entire netbook.

Re:My model M rules (1)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | about 5 years ago | (#27349119)

It doesn't have the Windows key, which is one more reason for me to like it.

It is unfortunate that the Windows key is branded the way it is, but it's actually pretty useful. (Assuming you run windows, which you probably don't.)

Mostly I use Windows+e to open a file explorer, and Windows+r to open the "run" dialog. Several times a day I type Windows+r, then "calc", allowing me to do math without reaching for the mouse.

This sort of functionality is best with a key reserved for the operating system (or at least the window manager) to use for its own purposes. Since Ctrl, Alt, and Shift mostly belong to applications, a fourth meta key is desirable.

Admitted keyboard snob here (4, Interesting)

subreality (157447) | about 5 years ago | (#27348651)

In the 90s, I got used to typing on an NMB mechanical keyboard. Back then, clicky was taken for granted, and "quiet" keyboards were the unusual ones. And then one day, it finally broke and started typing gibberish...

Over the course of many years, I went through a bunch of the sucky membrane keyboards, always buying the least-bad one I could find, but my typing speed and accuracy were never as good as when I was on my old NMB. I just recently came across one, and snagged it, and it's really eye opening how much more pleasant it is to type on this one. The sound is satisfying, a light click instead of the Model M "chunk", but it's the touch that really matters. There's a subtle resistance, and then falling away just as the key makes contact, and then a hesitation and snap loose when it breaks.

I never did get into the Model M (now Unicomp) craze. They're too loud, and the spring pressure is way too high. The NMB mechanism is very light, but very tactile. My fingers feel like they're just brushing over the keys, instead off banging on them.

The only thing I don't like about this one is that the \ is in the wrong place, to the left of the backspace instead of under it. I'd be in heaven if I could find a keyboard with similar touch and an IBM-standard layout. Anyone know of one? Das Keyboard III is looking like a likely contender, but I'm reluctant to drop that kind of money without being able to test drive it first.

Re:Admitted keyboard snob here (1)

psnyder (1326089) | about 5 years ago | (#27348929)

There's software available so you can remap your keys to get the \ in the right place (or any key anywhere for that matter).

And depending on the keyboard, you may be able to physically switch the key top to make it look the way you want, after you get it to type the way you want.

Re:Admitted keyboard snob here (2, Insightful)

subreality (157447) | about 5 years ago | (#27349051)

Remapping won't fix this. This is the kind of deformed keyboard where the enter key is an L shape extending to where the \ should be, and the backspace is only a standard width key, instead of a double-wide.

Unless your remapping software is way cooler than mine is... :)

Maybe more ergonomic? (1)

Britz (170620) | about 5 years ago | (#27348659)

I needed to get a new Microsoft Natural Keyboard (I like their hardware much better than their software), because I want to use it with my notebook that does not have PS/2. So I could directly compare the first and original Microsoft Natural Keyboard with the current 4000.

The 4000 has much softer keys and I liked the harder ones better. But I suppose they are more ergonomic. Or is their any other reason? I am already getting used to the softer keys.

Re:Maybe more ergonomic? (2, Informative)

trouser (149900) | about 5 years ago | (#27349141)

Typing this on an original MNK, the crown prince of keyboards, accept no spurious imitations.

Yay! (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#27348733)

Now i might be able to get a respectable keyboard for my Mac, since there were never any USB keyboards worth a damn and a PS/2 to USB on an old IBM model M never did work right.

Re:Yay! (2, Informative)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 5 years ago | (#27348781)

I use an Apple Extended Keyboard II (ADB) with a Griffin iMate adapter. Terrific keyboard; it should be, costing $169.00 originally. Funny thing is, the power key, removed from current Apple keyboards, still works on the latest Macs.

Best. Keyboard. Ever. (2, Interesting)

lax-goalie (730970) | about 5 years ago | (#27348745)

I'd been looking for an adapter to use an old IBM keyboard with my Mac. I'd never liked "squishy" keyboards, or ones with short key travel, and Apple keyboards seem to get squishier and shorter as time goes by. Then I found the Unicomp. My fingers are happy now.

The only downside is that you need to do a little prefs-setting and key swapping to put the option and command keys in the right place, but that's no big deal.

Get one. It's 70 bucks well spent.

Hardly working? (1)

Jessified (1150003) | about 5 years ago | (#27348791)

This is what I have always said! Plus, you can mindlessly tap the keys and your boss will be convinced you are hard at work.

5001 (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | about 5 years ago | (#27348839)

I love my keyboard. It has the clicky keys, but it also has:
- duplicate function keys down the left side. Great for one handed CTRL-F? etc
- NO win-idiot keys (nice wide space bar)
- built-in LCD calculator (top right corner)

When it dies I will be sad. I have tried to find a replacement, but other than a one-off specialty buy...

Bullshit. (1, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | about 5 years ago | (#27348843)

Am I the only person on Slashdot who hates clicky keyboards? Good fucking riddance. Seriously, anyone who thinks they're a good idea needs to spend a day sitting in an office where everyone has one. Get ready to change your mind.

Collapsible light-touch keys (1)

hwyhobo (1420503) | about 5 years ago | (#27348863)

On old style keyboards keys collapsed at the end of the movement, and your finger naturally relaxed. Rubber keyboards resist the pressure all the way, and the most toward the end. Then they push back. Your hands tire much faster that way, and it could contribute to the development of the repetitive stress disorder. In addition, it is very difficult to find a decent ergonomic keyboard these days. They seem to have disappeared. I still use my 12-year old feather-touch Acer Future.

Perhaps if the maker in TFA developed a good split keyboard like that, with light-touch collapsible keys, they could find a real niche. I know I would buy one (USB).

real keyboards have home row control keys (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 5 years ago | (#27348943)

The original PC keyboard, did, too.

I've got a stash of Sun keyboards, including the Type 5 I'm using now (attached to a name-brand PC) that I hope will last me until you can no longer use a keyboard with a computer.

There's a significant level of idiocy involved in contorting your hands to reach the mis-placed control key on other keyboards, or lifting your hands away from the keyboard to reach it.

The Model M is much more than a keyboard (4, Interesting)

szquirrel (140575) | about 5 years ago | (#27348981)

It's a geek badge of honor. I own a few and I love them like my children (okay not really, maybe like my pets) but part of that comes from the effort I put in to scrounge them and clean them up myself. I do like the feel of typing on a Model M but what I love is the feeling of gravitas (figuratively and literally, it's really heavy).

Vintage hardware is neat but most of it is of no practical use today. Is there any other part of a 20-year-old computer that you could still use for day-to-day tasks? A Model M lets you feel old-school without actually having to live in the bad old days of floppy disks and 300 baud modems.

I type on my wife's Mac keyboard and it's fine. I type on a rubber dome keyboard at work and it does the job too. Maybe I would feel differently if my job required pumping out hundreds of thousands of words very quickly, but for most people (and, I suspect, most Model M owners) that's not the case.

Nostalgia is fun. It's okay to have a "throwback" keyboard if that's what you want. Not every technological choice we make has to be justified by greater efficiency or superior ergonomics. Relax and feel the Model M love.

A Keyboard Is A Keyboard... (1)

creimer (824291) | about 5 years ago | (#27348993)

I used to have an old IBM AT that I ran a BBS on back in the day. Loved the IBM keyboard since it was heavy enough to smack roommates around with. Used the Microsoft split keyboard for well over a decade. These days I'm using the Logitech Classic Keyboard 200 that cost $20 USD. Plain, simple and works well with PCs and Macs.

The only keyboard that I use more than the Logitech keyboard belongs to a Brother GX-6750 electronic typewriter. Not as nice as the typewriters made 20 years ago but good enough.

Put the Hammer Down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349009)

In your face plastic rubber!

what about cherry g81 & g83 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349041)

i don't remember exactly, but one of those cherry keyboards was my first (g83 i think) ... i still use it ... and LOVE the way it feels... it's 15 years old but still works like charm ... not like newer keyboards that fail after few years ... /me is one of those people that don't use windows keys ....

SHIFT+F10 FTW !

Spacesaver (1)

CSFFlame (761318) | about 5 years ago | (#27349047)

Postin to say I have a unicomp with the quietkeys, doesn't work well for holding down for FPSes, works excellently for typing.

Northgate Omnikey Evolution (1)

dh003i (203189) | about 5 years ago | (#27349065)

I use a Northgate Omnikey Evolution. Excellent solid clicky keys, ergonomic design. Great kb.

Model M = LART tool (5, Funny)

Bob A Trollmuncher (738173) | about 5 years ago | (#27349093)

Ah the classic model M, the only keyboard you could beat a user to death with, then sit down and use it delete their account.

good but not always for office useage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27349161)

I've used one for years, annoyed the hell out of my collegues with it. I'm now using a microsoft natural. Good compromise between typing comfort and noise levels.

Unsurprising, really (1)

jockeys (753885) | about 5 years ago | (#27349167)

I use a Das Keyboard for similar reasons. It feels good, I can bang away on it for hours on end, and the noise is somehow comforting to me.

Plus, it infuriates my cubemates, which is always a plus.
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