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IBM Model M Keyboard Print E-mail


The IBM Model M keyboard is a keyboard you either love or hate. Some consider the IBM Model M keyboard the greatest keyboard ever made with its clicking keys and almost indestructible body. The Model M provides a tactile feedback in the keys like no other keyboard.

The most identifiable feature of the keyboard is the vertical spring that buckles and clicks every time a key is pressed. One of the biggest complaints people have about the keyboard is the clicking noise from the keys. Just imagine what a computer lab with thirty Model M keyboards would sound like, and people say computer labs are to loud today. Most modern keyboards do not use springs under the keys to activate switches but rather a use a rubber underlay printed with conductive tracks, which terminate little pads. If you have ever opened up a remote control, you have seen the same basic technology used to make modern keyboard.

Modern keyboards are significantly cheaper to produce than the IBM model M because it is cheaper to produce a flexible rubber underlay with metal contacts than it is to make a keyboard with over a hundred individual switches.

A rubber keyboard mat from a modern keyboard (no switches needed here)


When IBM spun its peripheral hardware off to their subsidiary Lexmark they included the IBM Model M. While being made by Lexmark the Model M went through several revisions including a cable that could no longer be detached and a thinner case. Other than bearing the Lexmark name rather than IBM, the keyboard looked the same but was lighter and not built to last as long. After Lexmark started making only printers, they sold the patent to Unicomp who still makes the keyboard today for $50. IBM and its subsidiary made the Model M from 1986 till the Mid '90's. There have been other companies that have tried to copy the Model M design however none have successful been able to achieve the same quality and feel of the real thing.

Picture showing were keyboard cable plugs into keyboard


The pictures on this page show a Model M made in 1986 and still works just as well now as it did almost twenty years ago. The Model M was made to last a long time unlike most keyboards today that are designed to be cheap as possible as last only a couple years till the computer it came with is replaced. Unlike modern keyboards where the rubber under they keys wear out after flexing so many times, the Model M has to rubber to get old and wear out. If by chance a spring on a Model M wears out it can easily be replaced, however in 18 years the keyboard in the pictures on this page has yet to have any springs wear out even after being used daily for years. The IBM Model M keyboard is one of the only remaining computer relics from the '80's that can still be used with modern computers.

Serial Number Tag on Keyboard (Note date of manufacture 05May86)