PC keyboards

Philip Belben philip at axeside.co.uk
Thu Aug 21 15:06:48 CDT 2008

> Speaking of key tops,  most of what I've seen out there is one bit of plastic 
> keycap,  but this IBM I'm typing on seems to have a two-part approach to 
> things.  I know this because the "-" key on the numeric pad is missing the 
> upper portion,  the one with the "-" on it,  so what's there is both a " " 
> key and also smaller than all the rest of them.

I had a look, and I'm afraid not.  However, I can offer you any of the 
following: just e-mail me your postal address off-list.

"-" with a shift of "=", off-white
Totally blank, grey
"Field -", grey.

These interchangeable keykaps were used on a lot of IBM keyboards in the 
late '80s.  On the PC, I think they came in with the enhanced AT 
keybaord; my PS/2 keyboards have them; and I think some 319x terminals 
had them.  The nice feature was that you could do make international 
keyboards with fewer parts, since the keycaps were all mechanically 
identical; they didn't change shape with the rake of the keyboard the 
way the underlying keys did.

Many years ago I picked up a keybaord at a car boot sale.  It belonged 
to a terminal of some description.  It sat around my computer room 
getting tripped over and falling off things until it was so badly 
damaged I didn't think it worth keeping.  But I kept the keycaps, 
several keys and a few spring/flappy bit subassemblies.


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