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Archive for October 31st, 2017

Model M Keyboard Surprise

A friend gave me a New Old Stock IBM Model M keyboard, built by Lexmark on 1/30/96. Although I intended to try it out, I first showed it to Mary and it immediately ended up at her desk:

IBM Model M 1996 - media keys

IBM Model M 1996 – media keys

I favor off-lease Dell boxes intended for office use, so the PS/2 plug on the end of the (permanently attached) cable slid right into the PS/2 jack on the back panel. Gotta love it.

She’d been hammering out testcases and doc on Model M keyboards basically forever, so her fingers snapped into position and the room sounds like her old IBM office.

The “101 key” layout predates frippery along the lines of multimedia keys, so I gimmicked the top row of the numeric pad to control the mixer volume and muting toggle:

  • /amixer sset 'Master' 10%-
  • *amixer sset 'Master' 10%+
  • amixer sset 'Master' toggle

While doing that, I found the semicolon key fired at the slightest touch, so I popped the keycap to see if I could frighten it into compliance:

IBM Model M 1996 - dome switch

IBM Model M 1996 – dome switch

Huh.

It seems Lexmark replaced the classic buckling spring mechanism with less clicky rubber dome switches, even back in 1996, perhaps for use in libraries & suchlike. Come to think of it, this place is more like a library than an office, so muted clickiness seems appropriate.

For completeness:

IBM Model M 1996 - label

IBM Model M 1996 – label

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