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IBM Vintage Computer Keyboards

Features of an IBM Vintage Computer Keyboard

From programming to writing correspondence, a set of keyboards performs a key function in a home computer system. The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which has been in the technology and computer business since 1911, has manufactured these components as part of their product lineup. The company introduced their own series of these peripheral devices starting in the 80s.

What is a Model F keyboard?

The company started producing the F board series in 1981. Some of its distinct features include a painted, cream-colored plastic rough casing with a metal back. Below are the variants introduced by the company under the F series:

  • F - XT: The first in the F series. It was introduced as a component of the IBM PC 5150.
  • F - AT: This was issued in 1984 for the 5170.
  • F - 122: This was issued for the 3270.
  • F - 104: This was issued for the 5085 and 3290.
  • F - 4704: This series has several variants, including a 50, 62, and 107 key series.
What is a Model M keyboard?

Model M mechanical computer keyboards were introduced in 1985. Aside from the company’s distinct spring key design, this series features removable and interchangeable keys. The M series started out with 101 keys, which later progressed to 106 keys for the enhanced version. The number complied with ANSI and ISO standards for board design and layout. The first batch of keyboards had detachable cable connectors. Later versions manufactured in the 90s had non-detachable cables. Below are the series variants introduced by the company:

  • Space saving: Manufactured in gray with 84 or 85 removable keys.
  • M13: Also known as the trackpoint II. These are manufactured in black with a split spacebar.
  • M5-2: Another variant with an integrated trackball.
What are the key characteristics of an IBM computer keyboard?

Below are some key features of an IBM vintage board:

  • Keycaps: The number of keys changed with the introduction of expanded versions of the F and M keyboards. Numbers of keys range from 83 for the Model F to 106 for the enhanced M series.
  • Sound: The vintage F and M mechanical computer keyboards produce a distinct clicking described as a buckling key sound when typing. This is produced by a buckling spring switch under each key.
  • Design: The vintage boards either have a capacitive design or membrane design, depending on the model series. The later versions also come with a track point, which looks like a small button in the board layout. The track point functions like a mouse.
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