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


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

4 thoughts on “Model M Keyboard Surprise

  1. One of my obsessions is that the mobo of my choice gotta be equipped with two PS/2 ports.

    1. The Optiplex 760 has a single PS/2 port and a second (!) DE-9 serial port on an expansion slot plate, with a ribbon cable to a motherboard header, so Dell is definitely moving away from building them directly into the back panel. On the other paw, the panel still has a parallel port!

      1. My first PC (September 1987), Tandy 1000 SX, cost 7500 Finnish markka (markka ceased to exist 2002) today it would be 2300€. It came with a light pen port and a Centronics connector. There was no DB-25, but a ribbon cable was connected straight to the mobo PCB. Later added a 20MB hdd (may I call it XT after that?).

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