Hi-Tek Corp. History

mr_a500

30 Apr 2015, 17:00

Hi D'Milo! Thanks for posting. You cleared up some keyboard mysteries here. The Stackpole design ripoff was unexpected. I'm surprised Hi-Tek lost in court. It must have annoyed Hi-Tek that Stackpole often supplied keyboards to some of Hi-Tek's customers. It was also interesting to hear of the origins of the "space invader" (or 725) switch and how it ended up at NMB.

1983 probably was a good time to get out of the keyboard business - that being the very beginning of the "cheapening" - on the way to the "rubber dome invasion from hell" in the 90's when most keyboard makers eventually had to leave the market.

jhill8

04 May 2015, 21:13

Dmiloh wrote: All, just ran across your site during a search for any references to Hi-Tek Corp. My father founded Hi-Tek in the early 60's, began manufacturing the Hi-Tek keyboard in the early 70's, and sold the company to Minebea in about 1983. If there's anything you'd like to know about the company or the product, ask away. I don't remember it all, but I can fill in a lot of the blanks for those who'd like to know.
All the best,

D'Milo Hallerberg

Hi my name is John Hill,
A friend and I worked at Hi-Tek for the Dialer division as electronic technicians circa 1977. The first place we worked was an open floor huge facility shared with the much larger keyboard production. This was in Santa Ana, I believe. Very noisy with The dialer division move to a much smaller (and nicer) dialer-only facility off of Lampson in Garden Grove. My friend's name was Raymond Rinehart. I got the job from a friend of my parents Ron Kirchen, we also car pooled to work. My mom, in her '80s remembers a sandra. I was 17 at the time and this was a real upgrade from working at Albertson's as a scab for a short time or mowing lawns. We would troubleshoot and fix the Dialer's that failed testing. We had our own workstations that included nice oscilloscopes, temperature controlled soldering irons, analog and digital volt meters, nice tools and other accessories for the trade. It was a candy store for teenage electronic geeks like us.
I have very recently created a Facebook page for the company since none exists. I have even found a SINGLE image of the Dialer's we used to produce.

Nostalgically, John Hill
Attachments
hi-tek dialer3667084094_b4cab2fe07_o.jpg
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002
Topre Enthusiast

04 May 2015, 23:53

Thanks for sharing, John :)
I found an Ad for the auto diallers from 'The Deseret News', in 1978. It looks very high tech sitting next to those analog telephones.

antreou

09 May 2015, 13:09

Here is what must be a very early Hi-Tek Santa Ana keyboard pcb with linear modular switches.
The part number is 373-70100 The keys are slightly different to the stackpole as the one side is solid and the other side of the brass hands is slotted.
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stackpole10.jpg
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stackpole8.jpg
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stackpole5.jpg
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stackpole4.jpg
stackpole4.jpg (47.42 KiB) Viewed 3729 times
stackpole2.jpg
stackpole2.jpg (39.05 KiB) Viewed 3729 times

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

09 May 2015, 13:56

Thanks for posting your nice Santa Ana board here.

Jero

10 May 2015, 20:31

Lots of interesting info in this thread, very nice 8-).
Recently I acquired a bunch of vintage keyboards, most of them being IBM Model F Terminal keyboards, but there was another one in the bunch that looked like a Model F Terminal but it lacked any branding and the serial/part numbers on it don't get me far either but after opening up it turns out it's an NMB keyboard.
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Any info on this model?

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Chyros

10 May 2015, 23:04

Bizarre. It says it's a 725 series, but it doesn't look at all like my 725 (which looks very much like an F XT).

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brdrgz

13 May 2015, 19:37

Dmiloh wrote: I can say that originally there was only two designs - linear and tactile. Whether a third emerged, I don't know.
Can you elaborate a bit more on the decision to offer two types of switch? What were the intended applications of each? Why was one not chosen over the other?

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tactica

28 May 2015, 23:33

Jero wrote: Lots of interesting info in this thread, very nice 8-).
I certainly feel even more proud of being here seeing relevant people in the industry visiting and sharing their insight...
Any info on this model?
Haha! What a small world... I had one of those for about 24 hours before shipping it to Maxmalkav after a joint purchase we did locally. The unit was only veeeery slightly yellowed, otherwise it was still brand new. I discovered the wonders of clicky Space Invaders with it and fell in love on the spot. I have dearly missed that keyboard ever since -- no Cherry, Model M or even ALPS board I own can fill that void. :cry:
Spoiler:
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Jero

03 Jun 2015, 14:51

tactica wrote:
Jero wrote: Lots of interesting info in this thread, very nice 8-).
I certainly feel even more proud of being here seeing relevant people in the industry visiting and sharing their insight...
Any info on this model?
Haha! What a small world... I had one of those for about 24 hours before shipping it to Maxmalkav after a joint purchase we did locally. The unit was only veeeery slightly yellowed, otherwise it was still brand new. I discovered the wonders of clicky Space Invaders with it and fell in love on the spot. I have dearly missed that keyboard ever since -- no Cherry, Model M or even ALPS board I own can fill that void. :cry:
Dude, that keyboard looks so new :o. Wish mine looked that good.
I think mine is starting to turn brown slightly now :(. I'm not sure if I should give it a retrobright treatment or not (don't want to end up with ugly streaks/uneven color).

Now I finally know what button is located on the right 'Ctrl' spot (the intro button). On my board that key is missing. Thankfully I never use it so it's alright.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

03 Jun 2015, 14:58

Impressive tactica! Too bad you sold it.

Thanks for sharing John. Sounds like you enjoyed that job.

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Touch_It

03 Jun 2015, 16:24

Is it known if NMB ever produced an ANSI keyboard eg windows keys, no big ass enter? My friend loves clicky nmb switches but no windows keys + big ass enter or iso is a deal breaker.

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Muirium
µ

03 Jun 2015, 16:39

Yeah they made the occasional ANSI space invader. Andy has one on its way to him. No Windows keys though. Or iPhone docks or shark tanks or Bluetooth. Space invaders are all quite old, to my knowledge.

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Touch_It

03 Jun 2015, 16:50

Most seem to be older, yes. I ahve two nice examples with big ass enter. I know some exist with windows keys + big ass enter. I'm also pretty sure ISO with windows keys exist. Was hoping that someone had stumbled upon "the holy grail" :D. At any rate I know its an extreme long shot, and he is already going to be purchasing a Unicomp M after trying mine. :D

Got to spread the keyboard love!

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Muirium
µ

03 Jun 2015, 16:55

Intriguing. Got any pictures of the late models? Weird they'd still be stuck with early 1980s IBM AT-style Bigass Enter as late as 1995. Andy's has got a huge spacebar (which he likes!) and is definitely pre-Windows keys.

andrewjoy

03 Jun 2015, 17:05

mine is from a terminal , it just happens to be close to ansi

no wasted space between ctl and alt like on IBM :)

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If they are as smooth as i hope they are it may replace my filco as my gaming board ( until i get my little project done)


EDIT

thats if i can get it working , looks to be an RJ11 or 10 4 wire so prob VCC GDN CLK DATA should not be that hard

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Touch_It

03 Jun 2015, 19:49

Touch_It wrote: Most seem to be older, yes. I ahve two nice examples with big ass enter. I know some exist with windows keys + big ass enter. I'm also pretty sure ISO with windows keys exist. Was hoping that someone had stumbled upon "the holy grail" :D. At any rate I know its an extreme long shot, and he is already going to be purchasing a Unicomp M after trying mine. :D

Got to spread the keyboard love!
Here is one a geekhacker got the other day. Not sure on the exact date. It has windows keys and a split space bar. It would have to be around 1995. AFIK the windows key first appeared in 1995. Please correct me if I am wrong.

terrycherry

13 Jul 2015, 13:36

Chyros wrote: Hey D'Milo, I was wondering if you could help me date my Hi-Tek board.

It appears to be a Series 725, as that's what it says on the PCB inside. There's a Tandon sticker on the front. There's no obvious date codes on it though; none of the controller chips appear to have a date on them and there's no clear date on the back. On the back it only has a Made in Thailand sticker, a serial number sticker (which ends in 85), and three stamps; one that reads 1285 and one that reads TEST 82 in a square (the third is a bit harder to make out but appears to say 82 in a triangle. As such, I suspect it's from either december 1985, or somewhere in 1982. Also, do you have any idea what protocol this would use? Like XT, or maybe something different?

It's a really cool keyboard, and almost certainly my oldest :) (my second oldest is a Model M from 1987). I will be doing a video review of it in the future, and it would be cool to know as much about it as possible when I do :) .

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Hello, Chyros, nice to meet you. I came from Hong Kong.
Two days ago, I glad to see your video about the rare NMB keyboard with white one eye Hi-Tek on Youtube. My account couldn' comment you, I have to talk to you here.

My TAVA PC keyboard has the same layout and outlook like yours but the back case is different slightly.(I"ll post many photos on my facebook page, you can chat with me as a keyboard friend and discussing)

Your Tandon 84keys keyboard was made from Dec1985. I believe it belongs TAVA PC keyboard series(because the key layout, front case, back case and PCB layout(Hi-Tek series 725) are similar to the TAVA PC keyboards but switch not) not PHILIPS P2812 series(same front case,keys layout and the switches are the 1985-1992"older type")
Your keyboard is important. Its MFD between the TAVA PC keyboard and PHILIPS P2812 series.

As I research, the TAVA PC keyboard have 3 types and they have the same switch as I rename it to "(Linear)White Gundam eye" which deskthority and geekhack called it "soap dispenser":

1.[XT][1983.11]TAVA PC type1[(Linear)White Gundam eye] by terrpn from geekhack
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2.[XT][1984.08]TAVA PC type2[(Linear)White Gundam eye] by nubbinator from geekhack
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3.[XT][1984.10]TAVA PC type3[(Linear)White Gundam eye(short spring),(Linear)White Gundam eye(medium spring),(Linear)White Gundam eye(space bar type1)] by me(TerryCherry) [I"ll post it later]

4.[AT][1985.12]Tandon 84keys(SN T0 68330)[(Linear)White one eye] by Chyros from Youtube and deskthority

I found this very early PHILIPS P2812 series keyboard here:
5.[XT][1985.12]NMB 83keys(SN T1 19316)[(Linear)Grey one eye]; from ebay
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6.[XT][1986.09.20]PHILIPS P2812-000(SN T2 89829)[(Linear)White one eye] by Kurk from deskthority

7. (1986-1996)other specific NMB keyboard and the (1987-1992)RT-101+ series

8.[XT][1988]PHILIPS P2812-020(SN T9 141710)[(Linear)White laugh two eyes]
9.(after 1990)new Hi-tek keyboards

As I see, your keyboard gave me the actual date about Hi-Tek switch when it made. I can make the full timeline about this.
I hope you can take more photos inside the keyboard as it can support my mind.

These months, I had make my days and details to determine the NMB keyboards and the switch they have.
If someone interested it, I"ll share to you and deskthority wiki.
Sandy can contact me too. I can read and listen the Japanese.
We can discuss it more!
Last edited by terrycherry on 13 Jul 2015, 13:44, edited 2 times in total.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

13 Jul 2015, 13:40

Hi,

thanks for the information! Yes we would very much like you to add your information to our wiki. Please contact tactica before doing so.

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Chyros

13 Jul 2015, 14:22

Hi Terrycherry,

Awesome, thanks for the info! I'll make some more pictures of the inside and put then up, hopefully this evening :) . Cheers for contributing!

Engicoder

14 Jul 2015, 03:16

Just popped on tonight and this thread was here to greet me...what a delight!! Finally we may get some answers to some questions!! Also great to see all these nice boards being presented. I'm in the middle of photographing and cataloging all my NMB/HiTek boards with hopes of fleshing out the Wiki a bit more.

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Chyros

14 Jul 2015, 19:45

Here's a few more pictures of the 725:

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Of course, feel free to use as you like :) .

terrycherry

15 Jul 2015, 19:04

Thank you, Chyros.
It's so much help for me to determine it.
As I see, your PCB is probably same as my TAVA PC keyboard(a little bit not the same).
The important thing is that your keyboard just marked at "Hi-Tek" without NMB. That means your keyboard is the final product of Hi-Tek Corporation.

It proofed NMB brought Hi-Tek corporation in 1986.01~1986.09.

One thing I like to see you pull out all keycaps. Is your keyboard have one type switch only?(White one eye)
And hope you show us the front of PCB.

I had uploaded all photos about my TAVA PC keyboard.
I'm making the post now. Please wait.

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Chyros

15 Jul 2015, 19:47

terrycherry wrote: The important thing is that your keyboard just marked at "Hi-Tek" without NMB. That means your keyboard is the final product of Hi-Tek Corporation.

It proofed NMB brought Hi-Tek corporation in 1986.01~1986.09.
Yeah, that's what I suspected as well. There's no sign or hint of NMB anywhere, which I specifically looked for. Unfortunately it didn't list an FCC ID: I wasn't sure whether Hi-Tek's FCC was A6Q before they were acquired by NMB.
One thing I like to see you pull out all keycaps. Is your keyboard have one type switch only?(White one eye)
Yup, all switches look the same, including the spacebar. The spacebar switch DOES have a longer spring in it though.
And hope you show us the front of PCB.
Can't. There is a metal mounting plate over it.

terrycherry

15 Jul 2015, 20:09


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Chyros

15 Jul 2015, 20:59

OK, here's some more pics:

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terrycherry

15 Jul 2015, 21:41

Wow, great pics! Thanks for your help!
We have the same PCB. Your cable looks like AT. Have you try it for USB to PS/2 adapter?

andrewjoy

15 Jul 2015, 21:46

Pin-out of P/N 119640-001

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VCC
GND
CLK
N/C
DATA
N/C

All converted :) protocol is XT

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Chyros

15 Jul 2015, 23:24

terrycherry wrote: Your cable looks like AT. Have you try it for USB to PS/2 adapter?
I've tried it with a simple AT to PS/2 adapter, but that doesn't work at all, so I'm pretty sure it's XT. This is further corroborated by the fact it doesn't have a Sys Req key.

Engicoder

15 Jul 2015, 23:27

XMIT wrote: I've got a few linears available in the forthcoming keyboard sales. Hopefully I manage to send one your way.

I have several keyboards in the garage that look just like the one above, except filthy!
These early boards look very much like old Keytronics. They are essentially identical from the front.
Here is an example Keytronic board from your Keypocalypse list:
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The difference (in external appearance) is can be determined by the feet. The Hi-Tek boards have narrow feet that sit between the edge of the metal back plate and the plastic case. The keytronic feet are cut through the metal back plate. The metal between the feet is also bent differently.

However, if you do have one of these older Hi-Tek boards, I would definitely be interested. :D

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