Chad Perrin: SOB

2 June 2006

the glorious IBM Model M keyboard

Filed under: Geek,Humor — apotheon @ 04:05

The IBM Model M keyboard, introduced circa 1984, was the very pinnacle of keyboard construction technology. They are characterized by buckling-spring switch keys with swappable keycaps, a satisfying clicky sound and easily recognizable-by-touch contact threshold, a heavy steel backplate, and enough heft to fell an ox with a single blow coupled with the durability to be used as normal immediately after slaying the beast. They have reportedly been used as weapons, bats in indoor cricket competitions, doorstops, chock blocks while jacking up the car, and grappling hooks, all without deleterious effects on the keyboard’s operation. Due to their superior design characteristics, the vast majority of those Model M keyboards manufactured in the mid-’80s are still in service today, or operational but neglected by the young philistines who now rule the workplace and utterly fail to recognize their splendid quality. While new replicas retail for around $50, used 1984 Model M keyboards complete with twenty year old cookie crumbs under the keys often go for upwards of $150, and they’re worth every penny. No kidding. Meanwhile, the dome-membrane switch keyboards manufactured this century have been hauled away to the landfill by the thousands, already failing and broken. The only vulnerability of the Model M keyboard is liquids: don’t get it wet while it’s plugged in.

The next time some sniveling whiner tells you his ergonomic Microsoft Natural keyboard is better, and it can even be put in the dishwasher (not that the Model M can’t, but don’t plug it in while wet), take your IBM Model M keyboard by one end firmly in both hands and proceed to beat his metacarpals (the longish, thin bones in the back of the hand) into powder. When your supervisor asks what happened, and why the brat is screaming, inform him calmly that that he’s had an attack of carpal tunnel syndrome and should probably be seen by a physical therapist. To prove your innocence, and that of your precious eight-pound (I kid you not) IBM Model M keyboard, you will be typing away comfortably at 120wpm, the very picture of tranquil productivity, the ultimate team player. It will, of course, be in perfect working order, as long as you were careful to not strike the soft, fleshy parts of your victim so that he did not bleed into it.

There were later variants of IBM Model M keyboard that featured drainage channels (we call them “blood grooves”) to protect them against just such a mishap, but the incomparable quality of the keyboard design was slightly compromised. One does not screw with perfection.

[reprinted from another venue]


  1. Awesome as always. (:

    Comment by Alex — 3 June 2006 @ 09:40

  2. I like my Happy Hacker. It’s got a good feel, and none of the extra junk keys. Combined with a USB touchpad, it’s nearly ideal for me. But then, I actually like notebook keyboards and touchpads. I’m weird that way.

    I also just got a Touchstream LP, which is rather interesting… I feel like I’m learning to touch type all over again. It’s almost the opposite of an old IBM keyboard… absolutely flat, and zero pressure is needed to activate the printed areas used as keys. I haven’t had time to do much with its gestures yet, but I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun with it. :)

    Comment by ToyKeeper — 11 June 2006 @ 06:46

  3. YES! The finest keyboard ever. February 19, 1986 is the manufacture date for mine. Typing with that keyboard was like playing a grand piano. I got it when my dad gave me his old IBM XT because he had upgraded to a Zeos 386 16Mhz. It’s funny how RSIs became such a problem after the “soft touch” keyboards became the standard.

    Comment by Bobarino — 10 July 2006 @ 10:06

  4. Thankfully, there seems to be some hope for the future. In particular, I’m thinking of Das Keyboard II, which is a piece of equipment I rather want to try out.

    Regardless of manufacturer, though, the solid-feeling clicky keyboards are always the best, all else being equal. At least, that’s my experience.

    Comment by apotheon — 10 July 2006 @ 12:29

  5. […] hesitant to compare it with the glorious IBM Model M keyboard. I haven’t touched one in fifteen years, and haven’t seen a new one in more than twenty, so I don’t […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » HP Wireless Elite Keyboard and Mouse — 10 February 2009 @ 12:33

  6. […] I just need to get my hands on an IBM Model M in reasonably good shape to refamiliarize myself with how that feels, so I’ll be able to do a […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Das! Daaaaaaaaas!!! (Das Keyboard Ultimate) — 7 September 2009 @ 09:51

  7. […] 2006: […]

    Pingback by Long Island Computer Repair & Laptop Repair - The Best Keyboard Ever… The IBM Model M! — 24 November 2010 @ 10:27

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All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License