The Ultimate Keyboard

The following statement is just my opinion, of course. UPS delivered the best computer keyboard ever made to my door yesterday: the “IBM” 101-key. As I mentioned in The Crown of (Keyboard) Creation, the IBM 101 was manufactured by IBM, then by Lexmark for IBM. It is now manufactured by Unicomp and is available in multiple configurations. This particular model, the Customizer 101, doesn’t have the superfluous  Windows-specific keys. I deliberately ordered it that way. Those keys, like the human appendix, are totally unnecessary.

I’ve logged approximately 1,200 words on the keyboard in a day and a half, and am happy to report that this board is the real deal. It has the “click-back” of the original 101 board, because it uses the same buckling spring technology. It feels exactly the same as the original keyboards, though that isn’t surprising since it is manufactured to the same specifications.

Compared to the sponge-like and cheaply made Compaq keyboard that I used most recently, it is a joy to type on. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not faulting Compaq for the typing sponge that came with the Compaq machine I bought ten months ago. It is exactly what it was intended to be: A cheap board that allowed the company to trim $50.00 off the price of the tower/keyboard/mouse combination.

But if you do a lot of typing, and loved the old IBM boards, it is probably worthwhile to look at the new Unicomp boards.

This photo shows the effect of ten months of typing on the Compaq board. The alpha characters are starting to wear off. Click on the photo and the wear will be plainly visible. The A is nearly completely gone, the E is half-gone, and the S is getting quite squidgy around the edges. The characters appear to be decals. They’ll all wear off at some point in time, though it is unlikely that the board will last that long without some mechanical failure.

My wife Lisa used the new keyboard for a time last night. She was and is a big fan of the original IBM keyboards. I asked her what she thought of the new 101 keyboard today. “It feels just like a keyboard should.” She said. “It’s like the good old days, when times were slower, and keyboards were clickier.”

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