Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Me and my keyboard

I use keyboards a lot. And I can type fast enough; for as long as I can remember, I can type as fast as I can think what I want to say. But I do like a good keyboard. What makes a good keyboard? Different people will have different preferences, but I can talk about what I like.

First of all, it's important to me that a keyboard be very tactile. I want a keyboard to make a distinct "click" when I hit a key. I don't like mushy keyboards, the "chiclet" (such as was seen in the old Sinclar Spectrum) I like even less, the old ZX81 keyboard was the worst I've ever used until I inherited ladysolly's iPad, and then I discovered one that was even worse. It's to small, there's no tactile feedback, and not even any sounds. I hate typing on that thing.

The iPhone keyboard is, of course, even worse. All the horribleness of the iPad, plus it's much, much, much too small.  The only excuse is that you can't have a full sized keyboard on a phone - or at least, not today you can't.

The best keyboard ever made is this one.

Notice the IBM logo in the top right hand corner? Yes, it's the old IBM AT keyboard, also known as the Model M. It uses a buckling spring to work its magic. I can really feel when I've hit a key.

A couple of decades ago, I realised that they might not be available for ever. So I bought several.

They were pretty old when I bought them; vintage 1986. Now they're 27 years old. And they all still work fine. One of them is connected to a Raspberry Pi that I use for a terminal server; I had to get a keyboard-USB interface to make that work. Another is on the workstation that I use for general purposes, and I'm typing this blog on it.

You can still get this type of keyboard from Unicomp. You're looking at $79, plus $59 for shipping. Or you might be able to find a bargain on Ebay.

No, you can't have one of mine.

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