Like New

About twenty years ago, I bought a used IBM Model M keyboard with a PS/2 connector. I believe it cost me around $5-$10 plus shipping at the time. A good investment, given that this sort of keyboard is probably worth $100 or more these days.

Once about every 10 years, I clean the keyboard. This time I removed all the key caps I could and ran them through a dishwasher; that worked very well. The rest I cleaned with a damp cloth and a bit of dish soap.

Looks like new

After the cleaning, the keyboard looks really good. It was used when I got it, I used it pretty heavily for about ten years, and it’s now close to 30 years old. And yet it shows much less wear than the vast majority of keyboards of considerably newer vintage.

It’s a true blue keyboard…

It’s obvious that IBM used a high quality plastic that does not yellow with age and is mechanically very resistant. The key caps are practically not worn at all.

…except not quite.

The keyboard is probably just old enough to have been still Made in USA. To put it into perspective, it was made when Bill Clinton had been President for about six months, not long after the release of OS/2 2.1, and about two weeks before Windows NT 3.1 was released.

The classic keyboard

As with most old IBM equipment, don’t drop it on your foot. It’s heavy.

A big chunk of very solid plastic

Given this keyboard’s track record, I would guess that in another 30 years, it will still be working fine, while most keyboards made today will have disintegrated into a pile of plastic dust.

What a PC keyboard should look like

Good stuff.

This entry was posted in IBM, Keyboard, PC hardware. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Like New

  1. Darkstar says:

    I have two of these, one that I use daily and one (with US layout) for spare, although I don’t think I’ll ever need it, considering how robust they are.

    I need to clean mine again soon too. I usually also open up the case (you need a special hex key to open it as the usual hex nuts are too big to fit into the hole) and put it in a soap bath while I clean the inside from dust

  2. David C. says:

    I agree completely. I have two, which I use on my older PCs, where not having a Windows key is acceptable. I got them for a song at a flea market in the 90’s.

    Incidentally, mine are older, pre-Lexmark builds.

  3. I’ve only recently started using the Windows key to switch between virtual desktops. Otherwise ctrl+esc has been fine enough since…well since I was using OS/2 and Windows!

    I did enjoy the IBM keyboards but I just haven’t been able to justify importing one as of yet, and there was one local for sale but it was around $1,000 USD which is just crazy. I’m using some Philips thing at the moment and it’s .. .”okay” but it’ll never compare to having a PS/2 Model 80 and a new M.

  4. Saulo Paiva says:

    I use everyday a 1987 model M and the keys are less shiny than a cheap usb keyboard that came with a HP computer I got last year (and I hardly ever use that keyboard)

    The only key that is a bit worse is the space bar

  5. Jose Deras says:

    I too love them, having been around when they first shipped. The keycaps are PBT while the case is PVC (yeah, like your pipes!). Today’s keyboards mostly use ABS, which wears quickly and gives them that shinny look.

    You can order PBT keycaps off eBay and other places and those are nice and durable as well.

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