[Photos] Prism N7 Portable - SMK keyboard with Alps switches

I got this Prism N7 ATX portable computer recently to image floppy disks. It's a good computer with a Pentium II 233MHz CPU and plenty of disk/memory and a 16 bit ISA slot plus USB (which is really great for transporting disk images). It is a bit rough but I bought it for use and not collectability.

The keyboard is interesting because I haven't come across an SMK keyboard with Alps switches unless it's really NOT an SMK keyboard or these are clone Alps switches with "Alps" molded into the switch tops. This particular keyboard absolutely looks like an SMK keyboard from the PCB board and has a QC sticker that has SMK on it. The Alps key switches look like Alps. Is this out of the ordinary for the era or are the switches clones?

Here are some pics.

Prism N7 - keyboard front.JPG
Prism N7 - keyboard front


Prism N7 - keyboard back.JPG
Prism N7 - keyboard back


Prism N7 - top cover removed.JPG
Prism N7 - top cover removed


Prism N7 - keyboard mechanism back.JPG
Prism N7 - keyboard mechanism back


Prism N7 - Alps key switch.JPG
Prism N7 - Alps key switch


Prism N7 - key caps.JPG
Prism N7 - key caps


Prism N7 - spacebar Alps switch.JPG
Prism N7 - spacebar Alps switch


Prism N7 - integrated mouse pad.JPG
Prism N7 - integrated mouse pad


Prism N7 - keyboard controller dated 13th week of 1997.JPG
Prism N7 - keyboard controller dated 13th week of 1997


Prism N7 - keyboard markings.JPG
Prism N7 - keyboard markings


Prism N7 - SMK Quality Control label.JPG
Prism N7 - SMK Quality Control label


Prism N7 - portable computer.JPG
Prism N7 - portable computer
Last edited by snuci on 08 Apr 2017, 19:06, edited 1 time in total.
snuci
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 19:00

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snuci
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We used to call those "luggables".
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 19:04

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Trust me, I've got "luggables". This one is light compared to those :)

EDIT: But you are technically correct. It just seems too new fir me to consider it a "luggable" that you really need to "lug" around ;)
snuci
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 19:06

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I always thought that Eleen was a nice name …

SMK in this case denotes Strong Man, not Showa Musen Kogyo.

The switches are Forward SKBM White "simplified Alps", back when they were still Alps branded.
Daniel Beardsmore
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 20:49

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Ahh... Thanks Daniel. I saw "Strongman" on the controller but have never heard of them.
snuci
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 22:35

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Fairly infamous — they made many older Filco keyboards as well as the Matias Tactile Pro and Tactile Pro 2.0. However, both Diatec (owner of the Filco brand) and Matias abandoned them for Costar, and shortly afterwards Strong Man went bust. Amongst other sins, Strong Man called any unbranded switch a "Strong Man" switch, convincing Matias that Forward SKBM Grey (following the termination of the use of the Alps branding) used in the then-new TP2 was a Strong Man product (where in reality the TP had already transitioned to grey switches without Matias noticing); they also called four-tab clones "Strong Man" switches, even though they just appear to be regular Himake switches. Nan Tan did the same: the "N" in the -EN keyboards appears to denote Nan Tan switches (there's a brochure scan here somewhere demonstrating their use of so-called "Nan Tan switches") — yet these too seem to just be Himake. (Shared tooling may account for those, but not for Forward's switches.)

Strong Man also appear to have commissioned a four-tab clone that takes Cherry keycaps, but this seems not to have gone into production.

Strong Man keyboards often have "SMK" in the model number, which is easily confused with SMK in Japan.
Daniel Beardsmore
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Unread post08 Apr 2017, 22:59

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Nice portable PC Snuci! I just picked up a complete IBM P70 and a Panasonic/Matsushita FT-70 'Exec Partner' with built-in printer over the weekend near Windsor.

There's actually a Strongman keyboard on Ebay right now...I believe it's been there for a while now (overpriced):
http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-PC-AT-Stron...Sw32lYrf5H
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Unread post10 Apr 2017, 17:03

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Like very much this layout, nice catch snuci !
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Unread post14 Apr 2017, 06:32

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The almost perfect Layout here - bottom row with all needed keys + iso. This bottomrow on a 96 (97, that is) is my dream.
Shihatsu

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Sweet zombie Jesus that layout is awesome
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Best looking luggable I've seen in a long time. Nice work as usual snuci! I'm sure this cost a fortune back in the day.
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Unread post24 Apr 2017, 15:04

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