Saturday, November 1, 2008

IBM Model M Part Number 1391401

Port Townsend, today.

Who woulda guessed?

After fighting for almost a year with my $4.95 bundled keyboard, I recently set out into the Internet to find the “best” computer keyboard.

I learned the touch typing method back in my senior year in high school – 1960 – a skill that has served me well throughout my life.

From the early days of computers, I owned several permutations of the Commodore computer, outfitted my business in the mid-80’s with a squadron of Leading Edge Model D’s and spent a kings ransom on desktops and laptops!

About a year ago, I purchased a new desktop, and have been fighting with the el-cheapo keyboard bundled therewith. I have been chasing the keyboard all over my desk, cursed at misspelt words, and suffered from cramped fingers caused by lousy key spacing and the rubber dome-membrane input.

So! I determined to find the “best” keyboard for touch-typing, and discovered an oldie but goodie – the IBM Model M, part number 1391401 keyboard.

As the story goes, when IBM released it’s model 5150 computer in the early ‘80’s, the keyboard generated a mountain of complaints, forcing IBM to find a solution. A task force was assembled, and from their anatomical study of fingers to keyboard to tactile feedback, emerged the Model M, part number 1391401 keyboard.

I just took delivery of a Model M keyboard, manufactured in August 1990. And the joy of touch-typing has returned. The keyboard is a monster, some 19 inches wide, 8 inches deep, weighting in at almost six pounds. I purchased it with the recommended PS/2 to USB adaptor, and it “plug ‘n played” with my Vista Home Premium without software!

It does not have backlit keys, a Windows key, an email key, volume controls, programmable keys, USB hub or monitor for recording macros.

It is what it is. It is a keyboard designed for transmitting the written word into a word processing program, for serious writers to use effortlessly hours on end. It is noisy, part of the charm of the buckling spring key action, providing tactile and audio verification that the keystroke has been registered, without having to watch the screen.
Beware of imitations!

I got mine from
Clicky Keyboards and am thrilled with how input speed and accuracy is beginning to improve after the first day. And I don’t need to duck tape the keyboard to the desk!

After all these years, the key inscriptions are just as they were then, because they are engraved into the key, not painted on, nor a decal.

The best keyboard for all time, the IBM model M. A triumph of IBM ingenuity!

Who woulda guessed?

3 Comments - Click here:

Unknown said...

Ahh...the touch method. I learned in high school in 1980 and it also has served me well. I take calls and document issues for a living; on a regular basis callers tell me they can hear me typing..."listen to that keyboard go!" Can't imagine doing this job as a hunt-and-peck typist.

I don't know how my kids - who will likely spend their lives in from of a computer - are going to learning keyboarding if there are no classes available. I mean, how stupid is that??

Unknown said...

Welcome to the Model M.
I own five.

BTW, there is a forum devoted (largely) to keyboards at I've learned a lot there.

SDP45 said...

I had no idea you could still get a real keyboard!

I learned to type many moons ago on an IBM Selectric, though my homework was done on a much older Royal manual. There was no such thing as whiteout for me.

Thanks for the link. Now, to pony up the moolah...


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