The IBM Model M

I recently spent $12 in purchasing an old, dirty IBM Model M from a friend. It had been sitting on the floor of a machine shop for several months, and was missing several keys.

It's a 52G9658, manufactured in the USA on July 19th, 1993. Almost old enough to drink, and older than myself.

I took some keys from a broken IBM Wheelwriter that was lying around to replace the missing keys, and washed the keycaps with laundry detergent and bleach. I hooked the whole thing up to my laptop a Belkin PS/2 to USB converter and started typing away.


It's awesome. It's musical. It's rhythmic. The clicking is a full, satisfying ping that resonates through the whole keyboard, unlike the plasticy clicks that characterize Cherry MX Blue keyboards, or the muddy thuds of a rubber dome keyboard. The springs ring beautifully after you finish punching out that long sentence. The whole thing just makes you want to type, an effect that no other keyboard has achieved on me.

I'm several times more accurate typing on the Model M compared to my laptop's keyboard while maintaining the same speed (110+WPM) - I miss far fewer letters and make far fewer typos. My laptop (Dell E6410) has an amazing keyboard by laptop standards, and this thing just blows it out of the water. In a world where keyboard quality is consistently declining (we've now gone from excellent mechanical keyboards in the 80s/90s to mushy rubber domes to absurdly low-travel ultrabook keyboards and now increasingly to capacitative touchscreens), this is a reminder to the power of an excellent typing experience.

My only complaints are that it's missing Windows keys (though for $80 you can buy a modern version of the Model M with USB and Windows keys), and it's not very portable - for someone who spends 8AM to 10PM 5 days a week away from home and away from my desk, I would love a lighter version of this that could fit in my bag.