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An Introduction

...to IBM keyboards

Model F keyboards

The Model Fs were IBM's second family of keyboards that were prevalent during the early to mid-1980s and succeeded the many large and tall beam spring keyboards that dominated the 1970s. They exclusively featured IBM's capacitive buckling springs switches, had well-armoured construction and also spawned a diverse number of variants for the various IBM terminals, personal computers and electronic typewriters sold in the first half of the '80s. The most well know Model F, the IBM Personal Computer Keyboard, played a huge role in the success of the original IBM PC and its terminal siblings are well sought after and regarded amongst keyboard enthusiasts. As with most IBM products of the time, Model Fs were instantly treated as a standard in which many IBM-compatible clone manufacturers tried to emulate. As such, Model Fs were responsible for the standardisation of the XT and AT layouts and protocols and played a role in the development of the layouts that would later become ANSI and ISO.

Model M keyboards

The Model Ms were IBM's third major family of keyboards that dominated from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s and still in production via Unicomp. Essentially a cost-saving evolution of the Model F and its capacitive buckling springs, the average Model M with membrane buckling springs succeeded the Model Fs in all markets whilst retaining good reliability and build quality but also improving keyboard layouts significantly. The definitive Model M, the IBM Enhanced Keyboard, is quite possibly the most famous keyboard of all time and cemented the dominance of the ANSI and ISO keyboard layout standards that we still use today with only minor revision. Model Ms also spawned far more variants than previous generations, with Model M variants existing for the home PC, portable PC, educational PC, workstation, terminal, server, point of sale, typewriter and minor peripheral markets by the mid-'90s.

ThinkPad keyboards

The ThinkPad keyboards started as a variant of the Model M that grew into its own diverse fourth major family of IBM keyboards. The original Model M6 and M6-1 ThinkPad keyboards set a high bar in the quality of portable computer keyboards upon their release, which started a pedigree that has survived to this day. Starting off with buckling rubber sleeve switches, ThinkPad keyboards have since become exclusively scissor-stabilised keyboards produced by a plethora of OEMs and are usually listed amongst the main selling points for IBM and Lenovo ThinkPads. By the 2010s, however, the original Model M6-derived line was replaced by the island/chiclet-style AccuType keyboards that whilst have vastly different layouts are still regarded as being amongst the most high-quality laptop keyboards still in production.

...to this website

Shark's IBM Stuff was created out of the discovery of a lack of a centralised resource base for the IBM keyboard enthusiast hobby when I started out in August 2019. Great resources already existed, such as the deskthority wiki, YouTubers like chyrosran22, and personal websites such as kishy's, but I wanted something that could be completed in one place. The website is still in its infancy, but already it has begun to show its impact in the community as a valuable resource for those needing to look something else or learn more about IBM and co keyboards.

Keyboard part number database

Starting to the biggest and most well-known resource, the keyboard database is the most well known and used offering of the website. Inspiration came from the IBM part numbers page on the deskthority wiki, but I wanted to deliver a more detailed listing from a centralised database that could provide a lot more features, such as search engine-like querying, an API for external access, and the ability to develop 'applets' from using the data. And of course, I wanted to deliver more standardised data fields and include Lexmark, Unicomp, Lenovo and Toshiba Retail part numbers as well.

Articles

Articles are my own opinion, research, or exploration pieces regarding one or more specific keyboards. These can be my finding when researching a particular keyboard, a comparison between two or more devices, digging inside one or more devices, or pretty standard reviews.

Topics

Topics of interest are the pure knowledge bases this website has to offer, from subjects like common questions, jargon-busting, plug and internal connections, notable external sites and pages, and recognised distinct keyboard types!

Guides

Guides are exactly what you expect - tutorial pieces designed to help you with a particular situation, desire or problem. The focus is generally niché issues not described or solved elsewhere much.

...to me!

Hi, I'm Shark!

I'm a guy in his twenties from Wales, a small but beautiful country inside Britain where the valleys, sheep and several hundred castles dominate the landscape! My interest in IBM was ignited the moment I received my first laptop, a ThinkPad T21, when I was thirteen or so years old. Whilst it certainly wasn't as sleek and elegant as the other kids' PowerBooks and MacBooks, the thing felt indestructible and I was more than happy to lug around an absolute unit of a laptop! About a decade later, I finally got interested in keyboards and decided to pull the trigger on a cheap eBay listing for a 122-key Model M in the summer of 2019. And, the rest is history...

This website is a testament to my love of high-quality and interesting keyboards and dedication to this hobby! I like to think I'm the helpful sort of person, and I'm more than happy to spend time and effort into building this site towards being the greatest centralised resource in the hobby! I've also happily take on the role of moderator of r/ModelM, r/ModelF and r/Vintagekeyboards, and I frequent the forums deskthority and geekhack.

Outside of keyboards, I'm a lover of technology in general, a huge sci-fi fan, interested in naval history, listener of heavy and thrash metal, and I'm a CompSci research student and web developer by occupation!