I was reminded yesterday that I'm a keyboard snob. Since I use my computer a lot, including document writing for work as well as the odd entry here, the feeling of the keys under my fingers is rather important to me. Keyboard preference is not something that usually comes up in conversation, but yesterday I was instant messaging with an acquaintance who just bought a 12 year old keyboard on e-Bay and he was waxing poetic over it. When I heard what he got, I had to agree with him.
When it comes to keyboards, I tend to believe that older is better and the keyboards that IBM made for their original PCs were some of the best ever made. Part of this is because the first three computers I either owned or used were made by IBM. Much of is also preference -- these old keyboards have a certain heft and solidity of construction, and the buckling spring key mechanism IBM used is vastly superior to the rubber dome technology found in so many cheap, modern keyboards.
The keyboard I use at home is an IBM model 1391401 made on July 25, 1989 (there's photos of one made a month later here). I rescued it from a University dumpster about 8 years ago. It was originally attached to an IBM PC-RT that was headed for the scrap heap. It is somewhat amazing that I can still plug it into a computer motherboard that I bought 2.5 years ago and it still works. After all, the fastest computers you could buy in 1989 were probably about 33MHz, had 1-2MB of RAM, had a 15-30MB hard drive, and ran DOS with Windows 3.0. This keyboard is sort of the computer hardware equivalent of a woolly mammoth.
After the instant messaging session I had yesterday, I threw the words "ibm keyboard" into Google. I see that I am not the only old keyboard aficionado out there. People still pay upwards of $50 for good, reconditioned 1391401. As the fan sites all say though... it's probably a worthwhile investment because the folks who have them will still probably be using them a decade or more from now.
on 2005-09-29 at 9:35 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond