- Oct 29, 2000
Well, almost 3 years later and I'm still on the same Model M and same trackball. I'm not one for change, haha--especially when it's already perfect!
And come to think of it, it's been at least 8 years on this set (so 5 years before I started the thread) and prior to that it was at least 7 years on maybe this set or one of my spares of the same thing. And I guess if I want to go back even further, I started typing on the Model M in 1989 so that's what...30+ years. Damn I'm old.
I'm not sure about the trackball, I could never get used to those (do you actually use it for games?) but it is tough to beat a Model M for delicious typing. You'd have to find an old Model F, and that's about it.
I used Model M's for years. My first PC came with one back in 1991. Throughout the 90's I got stuck with various rubber dome boards, and always felt something was missing, but never looked into it. Got back into Model M's in 2005. You could still pick one up in perfect shape on eBay for like $30 back then. It is crazy what they cost now.
Amazing to type on. Aesthetically, less than pleasing.
Then I solved the second part by up a Black Model M13 Trackpoint II. I loved that thing.
Only downside was the keycaps. The regular beige/grey Model M's used dye sublimated keycaps. They would never wear off. You obviously can't do this with black keys, so they pad printed white letters on them, and then used a thin clear coat to try to protect them.
Unfortunately it took me only about 2 years to wear through the protectant and make it look all ugly. For a while I got replacement keycaps from Unicomp. I replaced them twice, but the third time they informed me that they had stopped making them, and that I just bought the last set. Understanding that I had a somewhat rare keyboard, I cleaned it up, replaced the caps, and put it in storage, not wanting to ruin something rare.
That's when I replaced it with the modern Unicomp designs. They were not bad, but the fit and finish was a downgrade from the old Model M's, and they also were nowhere near as solid.
(Not my picture)
It was nice to have the windows key and USB though (although the USB controller was very slow to initialize making it difficult to hit DEL to get into BIOS, requiring many retries.
After a few years I started looking around for alternatives. I wanted something aesthetically a little newer looking, maybe with mildly backlit keys to help in a dark room (I can mostly type without looking but I never learned to properly touch type. it's funny. As long as I am not thinking about typing without looking I can do it perfectly. As long as I try to consciously be all like "look at me, I'm typing without looking" it fails completely)
After much research and disappointment in the options, I wound up with a black Ducky One (the first one) with white backlit keys and Cherry MX Green (clicky, very heavy, to try to mimic the Model M experience)
Ducky makes some great keyboards. Very solid (as far as modern boards go, not original Model M style) and excellent fit and finish.
They biggest weakness is not their own fault. It's simply that try as much as you might, no Cherry MX or Cherry MX clone switch will ever live up to the Model M's buckling springs.
It's nice to ahve some backlight, and a slightly more modern stylish look though. Native USB and NKRO also doesn't hurt, but it is a compromize at best.
I've often wished that someone would come along, license the Buckling Spring technology from Unicomp and apply it in a modern industrial designed keyboard with back-lighting, and a completely reworked control board to allow for NKRO and native USB.
Heck, if I found myself with millions of dollars and no dea what to do with them, I'd take it on as a passion project. Unfortunately, that is not me.