Made In The USA: Unicomp Buckling Spring Keyboard

Good afternoon, everyone.

Meet Unicomp.

Unicomp makes keyboards. If Shinola is the perfect example of made-in-USA-as-branding-tactic, then Unicomp is the anti-Shinola. They make everything, soup to nuts, right here in the States. They are the inheritor of what is perhaps the oldest existing tradition in the relatively young field of personal computing. Their products are reliable beyond imagining and they are cheaper than the Chinese alternatives. If you want to own the best of something — anything — and you work at a keyboard, then today is your lucky day. You don’t even need to finish this article. Don’t need to click the jump. Off you go, friendo.

What? You want to hear the whole story? You have that kind of time? Well, let’s start with this: If you ever think that your childhood was lame, compare it with mine. Pretty much the biggest highlight of my nine-year-old life was going to my father’s office once a week or so, because I had a chance to use his secretary’s IBM Selectric II. What did I do with it? Very simple: I wrote the weekly newsletter for my school’s video-game/computing club.

Easy there, ladies. I’m spoken for.


The IBM Selectric, and its Selectric II successor, represented the absolute apex of the purely mechanical typewriter. I could go on for quite some time about why this is so, but it can be boiled down to a few key factors. You had the interchangeable-ball system, which allowed quick font changes and ensured even pressure, and therefore presence, on the typed page. Remember how we talked about “fist” last week? Most mechanical typewriters have an immediately-recognizable “fist” as well, a consequence of how their individual constellation of typebars actually presses the ribbon against the paper. Take a look at any typed document from before, say, 1975. Note just how uneven it is. The Selectric has no such issue. It is almost perfect.

Just as important, perhaps more so, the Selectric is also fast. Consider: As a twelve-year-old, I was the fastest typist in my high school typing class by quite a margin. I was actually too much for the electronic Royalwriters that we used in class; when I was in full flight I could overrun the buffer and crash the typewriter into a daisy-wheel Pentecost of unintelligible character vomit. This was considered to be quite the amusing happenstance by my classmates. There was a senior girl named Jo Lynn who would come and sit on my lap while I typed, laughing all the while. She was physically larger than I was, being all of maybe five foot two. Her neck would press against my cheek, simultaneously oppressing and exciting me with the hot scent that rose from her deep cleavage. I could never figure out why she did it. In the evenings, I would dream that she took my virginity and let me drive her ’79 Camaro. The latter seemed more important than the former.

As fleet of finger as I was — wait a minute, maybe that was what animated my eighteen-year-old tormentor, in that more innocent age? — I could not exceed the performance envelope of a properly-tuned Selectric. It could reach 14.8 characters per second, which is 176wpm in continuous operation. In theory, I could type 180wpm; I did it a few times for tests, using memorized passages. In practice, composing the newsletter as I worked, I rarely beat 120. It would take me a good solid ten minutes to type our one-page newsletter, my father standing there in his Pierre Cardin sky-blue suit, tapping his foot impatiently.

I rarely made mistakes, and when they did they were my fault. The Selectric had a way of making you a better typist. It had intelligently-shaped keytops back when most typewriters were either slightly concave or just plain flat-topped. The mechanical feedback was second to none. There was more thought, and more effort, put into that typewriter than you get in a thousand modern consumer products combined. You could have gone to war with it.

At the same time, I was learning to program on the Apple ][+ and Atari 800. Those early 8-bit computers, and the pair of TI 99/4As that my father won in a contest and gave to me, had keyboards that were woefully inferior to that of the mighty Selectric II. They were clumsy, slow to respond, mechanically inept with friction points and false positives all over the place. You can imagine my joy when Dad changed jobs and got an actual IBM PC — complete with the “Model F” keyboard.

The Model F was, more or less, a Selectric keyboard for a computer. It was not an adapted Selectric electro-mechanical board; those did exist and one description of them goes like so:

Under the typebars, there are 6-8 horizontal bars. These get displaced every time you type. If you pay attention, each keypress displaces a unique number of these. IBM put a magnet under each and a reed switch to detect the keypress. You can just as easily use a microswitch under each and “decode” the presses. This is likely the best/easiest way. It’s also 100% reversible and won’t affect the mechanism much.

But it was meant to offer the same quick response and tactile feedback of the Selectric. To do that, it used a “buckling spring” design. When you press the key down, you are compressing a spring which eventually “buckles” or “pops out” to one side. The feedback curve of that mechanical device is why you have strong initial resistance followed by a constant but gentle pushback.

The Model F was the Big Daddy of computer keyboards, and I would go on to use one for years at Miami University. But when Dad’s IBM PC was swapped for an IBM PS/2 around 1985, it came with the simpler Model M. The Model M immediately became the standard by which all computer keyboards are measured. It is fundamentally eternal, having very high-quality moving parts that outlast most possible usage situations. It was made in the United States by the division of IBM that would eventually become Lexmark.

Back in 2001, I had the chance to buy about fifty Model Ms from a reseller for $1 each. He just wanted them gone. I cleaned a few of them up and gave them as gifts to my hacker pals. In 2007, I bought a 24″ iMac to do video production and music stuff with. It was not Model M compatible, because all of my Model Ms used either a PS/2 plug or the older “AT” nine-pin big plug. That’s when I found out about Unicomp.

Unicomp bought the production tooling from Lexmark when that particular firm completed their descent into the Sheol of overseas-manufactured bubble-press keyboards. They continue to make the Model M, to the original specification, with the option of additional keys for Windows or Mac use. I have a Mac-compatible Unicomp. After a decade of near-continuous use, first at my hands and then as Danger Girl’s office keyboard, it shows no visible or tangible signs of wear.

DG would happily use the Unicomp until the heat death of the universe, but there’s one little problem; it’s too loud. When she’s on a conference call, the jackhammer noise of her note-taking upsets the delicate snowflakes in her management chain. So as of yesterday, she’s rolling with a Corsair Strafe RGB. Complete with German-made Cherry MX Brown switches. They are not silent but they are not oppressive, either. It seems like a good choice for her. But I will miss hearing her on the Unicomp upstairs, the state of her emotions clearly audible to me as I sit in my office chair, a distant station receiving Morse from an exotic locale.

My Unicomp is not for sale. Get your own. Get it soon; I don’t think that the business model of charging $89 for USA-made keyboards is as durable as the keyboards themselves. The funny thing is that the mechanical-keyboard enthusiast community that has popped up in the past few years has no love for the Unicomps. They spend $200 or more assembling Chinese junk. They love to talk about how close they are getting to the original Model M’s tactile feedback and precision, using rare-source parts from a certain factory in Shenzen or the like. But the real Model M is still out there. It just doesn’t have the all the exciting possibilities for color, backlighting, and so on. It’s just a tool.

If you are a “content creator”, you should know that a good keyboard will change your life. The Unicomp Model M isn’t just a good keyboard. It’s the best. And while I’ve been forced by circumstance to choose a different keyboard — more on that later in the week — you can’t do any better than a Unicomp. It’s cheap and it lasts forever. It’s made in Kentucky. It’s the anti-Shinola. If that matters.

74 Replies to “Made In The USA: Unicomp Buckling Spring Keyboard”

    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      By the time Dad’s office went Selectric III, I was using a thermal printer with an Apple //e.

      Reply
  1. Pete Dushenski

    I daily a Model M at the not-home office where I can get away with a little more noisemakering (gregaring?) but the home office is next to the toddler’s room so even my Unicomp is too much in the evenings, relegating it to emergency-back-up duty. The circa 2000 Apple Pro keyboard gets the job done but it’s harder to love.

    Reply
  2. JDN

    You can pry it from my cold dead hands: https://tinyurl.com/jhmsqp6
    I like to think that the volume of me using one at full chat is what got me an office with a door on it.

    The unicomp folks also have pretty awesome customer service. You can order any single component of the keyboard individually if you break stuff. This is useful if you pour an entire cup of coffee into one and need to replace the whole membrane/circuit board.

    In defense of the gaming mechanical keyboard folks – the model m is sadly not suited for gaming. It only supports something like 3kro so you can get weird behavior in games sometimes.

    Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I don’t think they are, but you could email and ask. I used mine to play Planetside and never had an issue

        Reply
        • silentsod

          Not n-key rollover, but 6 key depending on the key combinations. Their reply was quite detailed but that’s the gist of it.

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            That’s enough for most gaming purposes, I think — particularly games where the mouse serves to move your POV.

    • JDN

      The theory goes that because you get more tactile feedback on when the key is actuated you don’t have to fully bottom out the key – so you wind up putting less stress/fatigue on your fingers.

      Reply
      • Felis Concolor

        Precisely: the clean break of the buckling spring means your muscle memory is already moving fingers to their next keystroke while the keycap itself is returning to the start position. With membranes, you’re always bottoming out to make the contact.

        Reply
  3. Eric H

    The keyboard on my desk at work is as old as many of my co-workers, it’s dated 1995. I have three more as backup.
    It’s not a model M (which are too noisy for my tastes) but it is a good mechanical keyboard.

    Reply
  4. phr3dly

    Unfortunately the Unicomp line has a major deficit that makes it a non-starter for me: The ten-key-less option. Buying a $140 wasd keyboard, high quality and Made in Taiwan, seems preferable to learning to mouse left-handed.

    Reply
    • silentsod

      I prefer a shortened 10 key over the 10 key less. This after buying and then giving away a 10 key less board. Whilst playing CS:GO (I grew up playing CS and then was hardcore into CS:GO, into the top 1.7% of matchmaking players with a group of 4 other regulars) with a giant ass mousepad my arms would be uncomfortably splayed apart and I would still bang my mouse into the keyboard from time to time. The solution to being a numpad user was the direction key less version of the keyboard like: http://www.coolermaster.com/peripheral/keyboards/quickfiretk/

      I don’t think the MX Greens (very tacticle) are available any more. You can switch modes (with a quick numlock, no less!) to have directional keys but I usually have the numpad mode on.

      Reply
  5. WheeTwelve

    Whoa Jack!

    Describing that Selectric, it sounds as if it was designed *and* engineered *before* it was released upon the unsuspecting public. What’s that all about? Just think how much money they could have saved by releasing a “beta” version, without all that engineering mumbo-jumbo. It probably would have been a lot cheaper too, thus guaranteeing market success of high volume of sales. I do wonder if we’d be talking about it today, though.

    Model M was my first proper computer keyboard (Commodore 64C doesn’t really count, does it?). When I crossed the pond, I was lucky to freely obtain one one being discarded. It had the old AT-style connector. After a proper scrubbing with various cleaning agents, not only did it look but it even *smelled* new. I made an AT-to-PS/2 adapter out of a 35mm film can and a PS/2 keyboard connector I got off an old PS/2 motherboard. I kept using it until a laptop became my primary work tool. Then it didn’t survive one of my numerous moves, and that was that.

    So glad you’ve shared info on Unicomp, as I now work with desktops again, and have been considering getting a new/better keyboard than the one I currently use. I just wish they had a ‘classic’ in Mac configuration.

    Side note: take a few more photos and send them to Unicomp to use on their website. Their photos look like prison headshots for keyboards.

    Reply
      • WheeTwelve

        Sadly, yes. I can visualize the reel-to-reel tape spinning as the website loads. Or a 30MB RLL HDD clicking while doing the same.

        I’m guessing that most of their business is through their Amazon storefront, so their own website just isn’t all that important.

        Shame, because their website is considerably more flexible in keyboard configurations than their Amazon storefront is.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Agreed. You get the feeling as well that you’d have even more options if you called ’em…. nobody does that any more.

          Reply
          • WheeTwelve

            I was actually thinking about doing *exactly that*, for that very reason. I want to find out if there is a way to get the classic with keys added for Mac… Yes, the trackpads and mice are nice, but I’m old school, and therefore faster with the keyboard.

            You mentioned in your article that the business may not be as durable as the product itself. I worry it’s not the cost of manufacture that may be a problem for them, but the design (discussed elsewhere in this thread), and the kind of thinking that goes along with that poor, poor website.

            I really, truly hope we are both wrong.

          • nici

            Unicomps website is at least reasonably functional. The configuration tool isn’t very flexible though, I need a Mac keyboard with Fin/Swe layout and both are available, but not simultaneously. Says to e-mail them for non-standard configurations, might have to ask them if such a thing is possible since I haven’t found anyone else that offers a proper Mac keyboard in fin/swe layout. Mostly they are US layout only.

  6. Ronnie Schreiber

    The Selectric also used a polymer film ribbon that produced clear letters with no fabric ribbon marks. The correcting tape also worked very well. It produced beautiful looking documents compared to a standard typewriter. My mom had worked as a professional secretary who could take Gregg shorthand and type 90 wpm so I had a clue about typing.

    I took typing in high school, from a group of mandatory courses. This was back when they still taught boys how to change oil in auto shop and girls how to fry an egg in home ec. I think the fastest I ever typed on a manual was about 45 wpm. Interestingly, of all the things that I learned in high school, typing is probably what I do most often. I know that I don’t use much calculus in the way I earn my living, but I sure do use my keyboard to make money.

    Reply
    • James

      A Selectric ribbon served in a Columbo mystery, where the villain is caught because although he took the incriminating letter, he did not take the ribbon as well.

      Reply
  7. Ronnie Schreiber

    While we’re praising old computer gear, let us fondly remember the Hewlett Packard Laserjet 4. That thing was so well built and so reliable I’m sure there are plenty still in use twenty years later. HP obviously cheapened things up with the Laserjet 5 family, with a lot of plastic replacing metal. The 4 was a tank.

    Reply
      • Eric H

        I put a new toner cartridge in mine a year ago.
        It’s the third since I bought it right after they were released.
        It’s mostly retired now. It’s been supplanted by a Brother MFC something or other with color laser.

        Reply
    • Felis Concolor

      I knew HP had slipped badly when a friend who worked for them for many years told me to avoid Laserjets and go with an Epson or Lexmark instead.

      Reply
    • DirtRoads

      I had a 4M (being a Mac fanatic) and specifically looked for one on eBay after HP stopped making them. The best, toughest printer I ever had. And now the ex has it.

      Reply
  8. Lucas Zaffuto

    I’ve never owned a Lexmark or Unicomp model but I have two original IBM model M’s, and my dad has one “brand new” in box. When my dad worked for the state in the 80s they bought pallets of them so when someone needed a new one they had them in storage. Then sometime in the mid 90s they decided even though they were never used they were too old and they were going to throw them away, so he snagged a couple. He calls them battleships, which seems like an appropriate term. My modern mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Browns is much better for PC gaming but there is no beating a model M for writing. The one on my desk right now is vintage 1984.

    Reply
  9. Jodine

    I’ve already got a 1200$ guitar cable on my list for my husband, and now you’ve convinced me that I need this keyboard. What’s next?!

    Reply
  10. 2000etc

    Jack,
    I enjoy your postings on American made items. Unfortunately, I nearly always have the same issue with these products; namely, they lack good design, by which I mean they are not aesthetically appealing.
    A brief example: I was looking for a new portfolio and based on your blog’s past discussion of Shinola, I browsed their offerings. I also looked online at a European company’s product. Despite the Shinola being less than 1/3 the price, I went with the imported option, mostly based on its better design. I’m sure the shinola is decently made and will last, but it looks like something a tradesman would use in comparison to the other portfolio.
    Can you think of American made examples of good design? Would enjoy seeing them on your site.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Design is almost always subjective… I know plenty of people (mostly women) who would characterize Fallingwater as an “ugly ass house” that needs higher ceilings.

      If there is an American design language, it’s bulky, workmanlike, provincial, rural. Think Oxxford suits compared to Kiton. Not everybody is going to dig that.

      Reply
      • 2000etc

        I like that analogy. Oxxford may be better made, but I’ve never seen the appeal of the cut. But by your description is American design capable of producing luxury products? Maybe Mcintosh (audio)?

        Presuming an object is useful, I would posit that there are certain principles of good design that add to the beauty of an item, though I’m not sure I could pinpoint all of them. I’m thinking of things like clean lines and smoothly finished seams without rough edges.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          There was a golden era of American design — Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Raymond Loewy. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe everybody just recovered from the war, y’know?

          Reply
          • 2000etc

            Completely agree, and I often find myself wondering the same thing. There are plenty of examples of great American design, just few in recent memory. Apple has good design, though it’s really more of a global product.

            Part of me wonders if it isn’t in some way due to the disposable nature of most products today making design less relevant? Who wants to pay for good design when you plan to pitch it anyway? Apparently, very few people.

      • WheeTwelve

        Design is *often* subjective. I think “almost always” is perhaps a bit too heavy.

        I think that there is a difference between the bleeding-edge, style-du-jour design, versus something that is (usually) somewhat restrained, and therefore more likely to be pleasing to more people. I also think that restrained designs have much better longevity as well.

        I don’t know, I do find myself wishing Unicomp made a keyboard with the same mechanicals, but one that looks … I don’t know, closer to the Corsair job you mention in your post, for example. I definitely dig the Model M classic, no question. But for people who didn’t use one during their formative years, perhaps a more eye-catching design may be more appealing.

        Reply
      • DirtRoads

        I bet they wouldn’t say that about the Gamble house.

        Then again, I love making Greene and Greene furniture in my garage, even if it does cover the Corvette with dust.

        Reply
  11. zzr rider

    I grew up on a remote island, where my father was journalist / typesetter / head pressman /second pressman / press feeder / delivery driver / bookkeeper for the only newspaper on that island. Thirty or forty years later I can still hear him out on the porch, bashing away at the keys on his IBM Selectric II, typing up stories of VW 411 rollovers and mystery vessels washing up on shore.

    Reply
      • zzr rider

        I won’t share publicly because we’re in a family dispute over ownership of copies of each edition of that paper, now that my father is deceased. But proof isn’t too difficult to provide privately if you’re skeptical. My sister and I feel the papers belong in the island’s museum but certain elements want to eBay them, FFS.

        Reply
    • Tomko

      When my father was assigned to NATO in the early ’70s he bought a VW 411 that was on display at a regional car show. It had a four-on-the-floor and some other interesting optional equipment including a factory AM/FM/LW radio.

      He never bought another foreign job. That VW solidified him as a GM lifer.

      Reply
      • zzr rider

        I actually see 411s upside down in my head when I think of them. It’s too bad because they look fantastic upright.

        Reply
      • Volando Bajo

        I worked for a VW-MB dealer in FL during a college years beach sabbatical, and was once sent to drive a new 411 back to the shop. The owner, somewhat portly, and somewhat particular, being also the owner of an MB, disliked the fact that whenever he hit a pothole, the underside of the driver seat would short out the battery that was placed under it. That alone could have been the first clang of a death-knell.

        But it gets better/worse. Our top A/C mechanic was under five feet, and could kill the book labor rates on VW’s due to his small size. Worked 40 booked over 80 when other good mechanics were lucky to book 60.

        But he threatened to quit if he ever had to change another A/C belt on a 411. Even though the book time was 11 hours. Which for him should have taken about 5 or 6.

        Seems you had to drop the motor and lower the tranny, or vice versa, just to change the A/C belt.

        That was about the same time Toyota began to make a big push, always waiting for VW to introduce a model, and then coming out with something slightly faster, slightly cheaper and with slightly better gas mileage.

        But VW made it easy for them, with design “features” like the battery under a metal spring seat, and having to remove more than half the drive train to change an A/C belt.

        I wouldn’t believe a story like this myself, if I hadn’t been there. As it was, I was one of the regular lunch bunch crowd of mechanics, and having worked my way up to flatrate, was considered a member of the mechanic’s inner circle, which included being privy to their true feelings and experiences regarding the brands that they were familiar with. Some of the things that they said about some of the vehicles they worked on would have gotten them fired if they had said them to anyone other than another mechanic in our shop.

        Ever since, before I consider buying a car, I make it my business to talk with a mechanic I trust who has had fairly extensive experience working on that type of vehicle. And the only really bad experiences I have had have been rare one-off kind of failures, for the most part.

        Reply
  12. Dan R.

    I must be in the minority, as I find these mechanical keyboards and their high profile and long key travel very uncomfortable. I bought a Das Keyboard – my first mechanical – with Cherry Blue switches. While I did initially enjoy the Das’ feel and performance, one month in, my typing speed – and wrist comfort – were suffering. So I went back to using an external keyboard that mimics the flat, chiclet style of my laptop keys, and I haven’t looked back. YMMV

    Reply
  13. Felis Concolor

    I have 3 Unicomp keyboards at home, but am currently using none of them as she can’t handle the tic-tac-typing when I’m using my computer system.

    Eventually we’ll have a separate room for computer/gaming use with heavy sound insulation and I’ll unwrap my beloved “clickers” once again.

    Reply
  14. CGHill

    When I moved out of the Commodore orbit into IBM-like gear — this would be 1990 — I bought a Model M. I’m typing on it even now.

    I had a Model M, vintage ’96, on my work box; they took it away when they moved me up to newer machinery, and bought me a Das Keyboard. The Das is very nice, but its between-key spacing is *just* different enough to throw me off and therefore slow me down.

    Reply
  15. Athos

    Well, these I researched when you and PD discussed them some months ago in an unrelated thread. Found the same company. It is interesting to follow all the crumps: IBM, Lexmark, Unicomp. The animation in Wikepedia is particularly cool.

    Also found there’s a company that will source and restore one of them for you. It ain’t cheap, but the stuff they had looked like high quality

    Reply
  16. Djarum

    I’m actually happy with these low profile bluetooth keyboards as long as there is enough space between keys. I despise most laptop keyboards, though. I’ve used some of those old IBM keyboards, and they were never comfortable for me.

    Reply
  17. Tony LaHood

    As a professional writer, I live and die by my keyboard. The best one I ever used was the 1980s-era Honeywell, whose tactile feel has yet to be replicated. When the Honeywells were discontinued ( USB connectors had become universal and Honeywell stuck with an AT type to the end), I switched to Unicomp. I’ve used them ever since and probably asways will.

    Reply
  18. Liquid

    One of my prized possessions is my May 31st, 1994 IBM Model M with a $7.99 Salvation Army sticker on it. My mother bought it for me a couple years ago. It was too big for my desk, and the lack of key rollover became a problem so unfortunately I had to go back to using this awful Logitech K120 rubber dome. A Unicomp space saver with the trackpoint mouse in black is a dream, but I shouldn’t start spending my money on computers again. I remember hearing a story from /g/ a few years ago about someone starting a job at IBM a month after they had thrown out hundreds of new in box Model M keyboards. https://imgur.com/a/TskO8

    Reply
  19. Charlie

    I’ve got a Model M made in the UK that’s as old as I am. The large area on top is perfect for a surface pro 2 in a case, and its about the only thing that’s made the surface bearable to use.

    Reply
  20. DirtRoads

    I have to pick a nit with you Jack:

    “The IBM Selectric, and its Selectric II successor, represented the absolute apex of the purely mechanical typewriter.”

    No. I had an old Smith-Corona-Marchant that my Mom gave me that she used in college, THAT was a purely mechanical typewriter. No cord, no on/off switch. Press a key, linkage was engaged, the arm flew up and hit the ribbon which made the letter, then the arm fell back down into the auditorium-shaped repose, rinse, repeat. And I used it in college for a few weeks until one of my professors asked me if I knew about the computer lab in the basement.

    The Selectrics were all electro-mechanical marvels. They had to be plugged in.

    That said, I was the fastest typist in my high school class, but the teacher gave me a B because I tended to look at my fingers. And we used Selectrics.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      That’s fair. I should have said electro-mechanical. But it’s mechanical in the sense that there isn’t a single semi-conductor in the thing.

      Reply
  21. viper32cm

    Ah, the TI 99/4A. That brings me back. My dad had one. I was supposed to learn on it, but it died in storage for some unknown reason. In any event, did any of the old 8-bit (yes, I know the TI 99 was 16-bit) computers have decent keyboards? Even when I was 7 or 8, typing long BASIC programs on my CoCo 3 was always awkward and sometime downright painful. Notably, when my family bought our first IBM-compatible computer about a year after buying the CoCo3, my dad spent an inordinate amount of time “test driving” keyboards before settling on an off brand 386SX/20 that featured a mechanical keyboard with really great feedback. I still miss that thing sometimes. However, my keyboard of choice of the past 15-16 years has been an a Microsoft Natural or the off brand clone provided by my various jobs. I prefer the layout.

    Funny, all this admiration for the old Model M, but, about 20 years ago, you could go into almost any high school in America and find tons of the things, many of the abused, but almost all working. Kind of reminds me of the way some of the current classic cars were treated 40-50 years ago. No one thought they’d have any value, they were just “old” and due for replacement by the next big thing.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Agreed on all counts.

      The closest any of the old-school computers got to a decent keyboard IMO was the rare and unloved Apple III.

      Reply
  22. nightfly

    “Remember how we talked about “fist” last week? Most mechanical typewriters have an immediately-recognizable “fist” as well, a consequence of how their individual constellation of typebars actually presses the ribbon against the paper.”

    IIRC, Sherlock Holmes used this to “fingerprint” a series of typewritten notes to his client, proving that the sender was in fact her brother writing on his office machine, trying to dissuade her from marrying (and thus seriously cutting his share of their inheritance). “That man will rise from crime to crime, and end on the gallows,” he remarks at the end.

    I loved my old Model M and I may ask for a Unicomp for my birthday. Or maybe for Arbor Day or something, since my birthday is a while off still.

    Reply
  23. Andy

    I never know how much money I’m going to end up spending when I come to your site 🙂

    My Model M arrived today. After using it for an hour or so, I really want to buy another one for work. But, I’m afraid the noise would bring a pitchfork mob to my cube in short order…

    Reply
  24. Steve Renwick

    I got two, one for work and one for home. Dang, son. It’s like going home. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Reply

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