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Input Devices Hardware

Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts 519

Posted by timothy
from the thrift-store-treasure dept.
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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Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

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  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:13PM (#27348375)

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

    WTF kind of sentence is that?

    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Funny)

      by creimer (824291) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:39PM (#27348823) Homepage
      What you get when typing away on a typewriter and thinking about the ugly people you had sex with.
    • Means.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tjstork (137384)

      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".

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tverbeek (457094)

      WTF kind of sentence is that?

      It's the kind that uses a metaphor... apparently instead of proper punctuation.

  • by Starayo (989319) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:13PM (#27348377) Homepage
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:56PM (#27349111) Journal
        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rynor (1277690)
      Have to say, I really like my Logitech G15 v1, it's so much better compared to the orange looking v2 that has different keys which don't type nearly as well.
      Not to mention the LCD, which is great as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cbiltcliffe (186293)

      I don't know whether it's the audible feedback, or the mechanical feedback, but I've got a pair of old Focus FK2000 and FK2001 keyboards on my computers.
      Maybe not quite an IBM Type M, but I can type about 20WPM faster, and with fewer errors, on one of these "clicky" keyboards than any of the crap rubber button ones.

      They feel like you're typing in Jello. Seriously.

      Something with a good solid thunk when I hit a key makes an incredible difference to my typing.

      But, I've played the piano for 25 years, so it cou

      • by Schemat1c (464768) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:28PM (#27349733) Homepage

        Something with a good solid thunk when I hit a key makes an incredible difference to my typing.

        But not good when you have to type while others sleep. Some of us need the quiet keyboards or have them bashed over our heads at 2am.

        • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:51PM (#27350789)
          Just take some of those cardboard trays that hold 144 eggs and glue them to the ceiling (covered in felt). That will work as a sound insulator and your mother will be able to sleep much more soundly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MojoStan (776183)

          But not good when you have to type while others sleep. Some of us need the quiet keyboards or have them bashed over our heads at 2am.

          ABS's M1 keyboard [abs.com] is a mechanical switch keyboard that provides the important tactile feedback, but supposedly does not produce those auditory clicks according to Tech Report's recent review [techreport.com].

          I don't know how important the audible clicks are, but a quiet option exists.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:32PM (#27349793) Journal

        >>>don't know whether it's the audible feedback, or the mechanical feedback,

        The only noise I need is my television in the background. I don't need mechanical feedback but simply watch the text flow across the screen. Perhaps it's because I grew up with a Commodore 128 and Amiga 500 with their relatively-quiet keyboards, and therefore I don't feel the need for noise.

        In fact, noise is annoying - reminds me of my old manual typewriter. Ick.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327)

          The C128 and Amiga actually had quite nice keyboards. They had a good feel, although quiet. My current keyboard (Kensington from the early 2000's) is pretty close with regards to that feel.

          I did own a Model M keyboard at one point and thought it had a good feel also, but the clicking was a bit annoying. To each their own, eh? In some ways I wish my PC keyboard had the layout of the C128, with " being on Shift-2 instead of next to the Enter key.

  • by Yamamato (1513927) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:15PM (#27348419)
    Clearly IBM is in a conspiracy with the people attempting to sniff your keystrokes!!! http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/26/1947246 [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lehk228 (705449)
      i imagine a spring keyboard would be harder to sniff, the main sound in a rubber sheet keyboard is the key striking the bottom plate, which results in a different strike position for each key giving a different sound. with a spring keyboard the primary sound is the spring assembly in each key, so the difference in sound should be less.
  • Responsive (Score:5, Informative)

    by airos4 (82561) * <{changer4} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:16PM (#27348445) Homepage

    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Zeio (325157) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:15PM (#27349465)

      I have a Unicomp as well. There is nothing like it. They also make a quiet version, which has the same curved keyboard typing area and all the keys in the right places, but doesn't make the ka-klang when typing. This is good for when you don't have an office or have kids next door at home.

      My typing WPM goes way up on the ka-klang style Type M clones because the feedback is exacting, there is a pressure-release feel when the button is actuated and a sound for feedback.

      I'm not saying cheap Chicony style or freebie Dell style are horrible, but the ka-klanging boards and that layout for keys seem optimal and if you happen to have very large hands, the pitch between keys is ideal for a lot more than the dainty handed typers.

      For the longest time I was loyal to IBM for Thinkpads largely due to the adherence to a proper properly pitched keyboard with proper tactile feedback.

      Also, IBM made a "compacted" Type M. It was black, has all the nice features but has a much smaller footprint. I think I have the FRU somewhere.

      IBM Black compact 104 clickey with curvature: FRU 37L0814 FCC ID: E8HKB-5323 MODEL: KB-3923

      Dell also gave for some time with the Dell 1550 machines and machines from that era a ka-klanger keyboard that was excellent. Its much larger like the Type M, its black and it ka-klangs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wordsnyc (956034)

        The Dell AT-101W used Alps keyswitches. You can find lots of them on eBay.

  • by esobofh (138133) <khg@teSTRAWlus.net minus berry> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:17PM (#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.

    • by JWSmythe (446288) * <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:32PM (#27348731) Homepage Journal

          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. :)

       

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "I prefer a fujitsu 8725, a modern cheap-ass keyboard to more exensive ones"

      $69 is expensive to you????

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by athakur999 (44340)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iminplaya (723125)

        Well, it is to me...That's ten days worth of food.

  • Man, I loved that keyboard. :-)

  • I'm unsure of what you're not sure of in most keyboard ugly.

    [sic]

    ;)

  • Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:18PM (#27348471) Journal

    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.

    • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by psnyder (1326089)
      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].
    • by BlindSpot (512363)

      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.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094)
      I wonder if the benefits of audio-tactile feedback are lost on those who learned to type on later mushboards. I cut my typing teeth on manual typewriters,* where the vertical travel and the "clack" are an inherent part of what it means to register a keystroke. If you're used to having the appearance of a character on a screen as your only feedback, those other forms are little more than arbitrary bells and whistles.

      *That's the kind that doesn't have an electric motor, kids.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chemicalscum (525689)
      This is typed on an IBM Model M keyboard manufactured on 21 Oct 1988. I found out that fact by turning the keyboard upside down. It sure is goddam heavy.

      I got it in Feb 1989 with an IBM PS/2 30-286. This is its fifth computer in twenty years and it is still going strong. My wife who is a touch typist loves it and she considers any other keyboard substandard.
  • 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.

    • Mine was born on Nov. 6, 1989. Despite your pronouncement, it ain't dead yet.
    • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:29PM (#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.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "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???

      • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:33PM (#27349825)
        You forgot to mention the most important part, after you hit the salesman the keyboard will still work.

        Actually I've heard that after those M keyboards get the blood of salesmen they actually make you type faster.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sponge Bath (413667)

      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.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:56PM (#27349107) Journal

      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.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#27348493) Homepage
    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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How much does it weigh after you clean it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by reboot246 (623534)
        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"!
  • they are pretty good (Score:3, Informative)

    by An ominous Cow art (320322) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#27348495) Journal

    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.

  • by sokoban (142301) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:19PM (#27348503) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yamamato (1513927)
      Yeah, but this slashvertisement for Unicomp needs to be posted routinely, apparently.
      • by sokoban (142301)

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

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:20PM (#27348513) Homepage

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

    • 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.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:20PM (#27348517) Journal

    (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.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:22PM (#27348557) Homepage

    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.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      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.

  • Das Keyboard (Score:5, Informative)

    by taucross (1330311) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:24PM (#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.

  • 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)

  • 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.
  • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "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.

  • by ericferris (1087061) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:26PM (#27348635) Homepage

    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?

  • by subreality (157447) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:28PM (#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.

    • by psnyder (1326089)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by subreality (157447)

        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... :)

  • 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.

  • by nurb432 (527695)

    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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by scotts13 (1371443)
      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.
  • ...the eye of the removable keycap!

  • by lax-goalie (730970) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:33PM (#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.

  • Bullshit. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jez9999 (618189)

    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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • If you look at the next article....maybe even louder keyboards aren't such a good idea! ;-)
  • by szquirrel (140575) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:49PM (#27348981) Homepage

    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.

  • by Bob A Trollmuncher (738173) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:55PM (#27349093) Homepage
    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.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:15PM (#27349463)

    . . . well, that's at least my opinion, after three decades of touch typing. I learned to type back in my teens in the 70's on my mom's Underwood mechanical portable. It was a model that you see international corresponds and sports reporters lugging around in old movies. It had a light touch, but you got a certain feel for full motion of the stroke. It just felt right. Like when I do a full motion backhand in tennis, and I just know that I hit it right.

    My high school had an IBM punch card machine, electric, of course, which I used to type out FORTRAN II programs. It had a small footprint, and the keys didn't have much motion at all. It just didn't feel right.

    On the other hand, those Teletypes, for the time sharing BASIC system, with the round keys, and the crisp, light touch, and just the right amount of motion were great.

    In the meantime, I have typed on all types of varmints and critters, whether I had a choice or not. I don't care about the noise, for me, it's the feel. And I believe that's because of that good old Underwood portable.

    Oh, and to disappoint typewriter aficionados, I was never really impressed with the IBM Selectric.

  • by immel (699491) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:16PM (#27349501)
    Despite popular belief, IBM did not design the Model M as a melee weapon with keyboard functionality. Rather, it is a keyboard with melee weapon functionality, as required by their DoD contract .

    Also, although legendary for their durability, they are not indestructible. A few well-placed armor piercing rounds from an anti-material rifle or a single high explosive antitank charge are often sufficient to disable one.

    -Proud owner of a 1986 IBM Model M (pulled from a pile of keyboards scheduled to be scrapped).
  • by monk (1958) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:11PM (#27350319) Homepage

    When I started working at my present company, they had an old Unicomp keyboard lying around that no one else wanted to use. I was happy to give it try. I love the way it feels to my fingers and it definitely improved my typing speed and accuracy. I'm a heavy emacs user, and I appreciate that the Ctrl key is as solid and responsive today as it was months ago. This is the first keyboard I've had that could stand up to heavy coding and writing.

    The noise made me feel a little self conscious at first but my neighbors are used to it, and the guy in the next cube tried mine out and ordered his own. He's as happy with his as I am with mine, but he ordered the Mac caps to switch out.

    I run an Iogear USB/DVI and switch between three Linux boxes, a Mac Pro and a Windows XP box and all work great with the Unicomp as well.

  • by viridari (1138635) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:41PM (#27352791)

    The keyboard that I'm typing on now is an IBM model M from 1984. That's right; 25 years of very hard use & abuse, and it's still doing fine.

    I've slaughtered lesser keyboards provided to me by employers. Now I have a model M at the office (much newer; it's only twenty years old) and doing fine.

    $70 for a brand new one with a USB connection and the extra "Windows" keys is a steal.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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