Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

08 Jun 2020

TKL

I learned to type on a Commodore 64, which used Mitsumi KSR mechanical keys, with a spherical keycap double-shot keycaps. I even got used to the three-key cursor keys which were actually great once you got used to them! By the standards of PC keyboards that followed it was actually quite a better designed and built keyboard...

At University I used a selection of OEM keyboards attached to Elonex and Dan PCs. I didn't like the rattly ones but I did like the silent ones which some people called squidgy. I also used various Sun keyboards, which were rubber dome keyboards and pretty silent and of the squidgy nature. Most of these were rubber dome technology, and cylindrical keycaps rather than spherical of old. Some would have been double shot, but most were moving to single shot plastic key caps.

My first PC had the Dell SilentKey keyboard, which was rattly, ANSI layout and I never liked it. It was beige, ugly and also very large and took up far too much desk space. I swapped it for an IBM rubber dome keyboard several years later.

My next PC had a cheap Logitech keyboard with rubber-dome technology. It was okay but not great. There was a double height delete key and no insert key...! It was curved and a bit flimsy compared with the Dell and over time the markings on the keycaps have worn out and some keys have taken on a very shiny finish. I used it instead of the Dell until I swapped to the IBMs later on.

When I was able to swap the Dell ANSI for an IBM ISO keyboard I put the Logitech in storage and started to use the IBM. For most of the last ten years I've used a black IBM or later a white but otherwise identical IBM keyboard for work and home use. I also swapped some of the keycaps around on them to create a black and white ANSI style bi-colour layout. My wife complained that these IBM keyboards were very loud, as I often bottomed them out and the hollow case amplifies the noise quite a bit. While not IBM Model M quality, they were okay, though over the years some of the markings have worn. They are very square in shape shape and have a smaller desk foot print that the Logitech and noticeably more compact than the old Dell. On their last clean, I repaired the circuit trace on one of them that had failed and fitted some sound deadening foam to them all which does make them less noisy.

Today I've started to use a Filco TKL, ISO/UK layout keyboard. It uses single shot but high quality cylindrical keycaps, on Cherry MX brown switches. It's heavy, compact, has big rubber feet and has no numerical keypad, so it doesn't slip on my desk and has a tiny footprint while having full sized keys. The Cherry browns require less pressure to actuate than the old rubber domes on the Logitech or IBM keyboards and as long as I don't bottom them out they don't make too much noise. It's also the first USB keyboard I have if you exclude the really horrible Viglen I have (but never used), all my keyboards are PS/2 except the Sun which uses a proprietary Sun serial interface.