[Photos] Digital LK421-AA "Short ANSI" Keyboard

Acquired one of these a few months ago, took some pictures, but didn't get the chance to share before now. This keyboard was acquired from a parts supplier in a 'new in packaging' condition, so it wasn't in the original DEC box, but was unused in plastic and cardboard wrapping, and included the documentation page (which is a little worn... perhaps the outer box was damanged?)

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Another pic with the documentation sheet which came with the keyboard. For those who need a quick primer on DEC keyboards - the contemporary (and far more common) LK401 keyboard had a fullsize layout which contained all sorts of terminal keys which VAX/VMS software expected. The LK421 was intended for Unix users who don't need all the extra keys.

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Much like the HHKB, many of the keys have alternate functions which are accessed by holding down "Extend". The alternate functions are printed on the front face in a lovely, rich blue colour. I suspect that these are dye sub'd.

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A view of the underside.

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Note the SDL-like connector on the keyboard side - Digital produced a line of similar keyboards (the LK5xx series) which used a long-since-forgotten interface called ACCESS.bus. ACCESS.bus allowed peripherals to be chained a bit like ADB, so the LK5xx keyboards would have had another port opposite the one in this picture which would allow something like a mouse to be attached. An ACCESS.bus cable would have that SDL-style connector on both ends of the cable. The ACCESS.bus was used on some of the MIPS DECstations only (as far as I know) and was then discontinued by DEC in favour of PS/2 and then USB.

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The keyboard attaches to a terminal (VT-2xx/3xx/4xx series) or a workstation (VAXstation, certain MIPS-based DECstations or some early Alpha systems such as the AXP3000 series) via a MMJ connector - same interface as the LK201/401. In this picture, the keyboard is connected to a VT-320 terminal which is attached to a VAXstation 4000/90 workstation. The keyboard can also be attached directly to the workstation for situations where a monitor is connected.

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From a typing perspective, these keyboards are stiff and relatively pleasant (IMHO) rubber dome keyboard. I have not opened this example, but others which I have examined were manufactured for Digital by Honeywell. Later examples were made for DEC/Compaq/HP by Cherry. Such is the similarity between the Honeywell ones and the Cherry ones (and complete lack of any similarity with any of Cherry's other keyboards) that I suspect that Cherry must have acquired the tooling from Honeywell at some point.
daedalus
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Buckler Of Springs

Unread post28 Dec 2017, 18:40

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daedalus
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Thanks for sharing. I love the look of this guy.
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Unread post28 Dec 2017, 19:22

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Cute! I have an LK... er I forget which, the full 400-series with the PS/2 connector on it. It's not bad to type on, not quite my cup of tea but I think probably a good example of what rubber domes can be like.

Also slightly jealous of the 4000/90, I have a 4000/60 and really need to get my VMS licenses together.
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Unread post02 Jan 2018, 14:41

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