Hypersphere wrote: ↑
09 Feb 2019, 17:15
Dolasvp wrote: ↑
09 Feb 2019, 09:48
Is there a list that specifies what switches came in pine, bamboo or both? I know that they are differentiated by age but like all things Alps that's sometimes hard to pin down.
Great question. I've only kept partial track of this on some of my Northgate Omnikey 101 keyboards by serial number:
1081779 -- Pine (Slits)
1128676 -- Pine (Slits)
1132628 -- Pine (Slits)
1136529 -- Pine (Slits)
1155854 -- Bamboo (No Slits)
1160507 -- Bamboo (No Slits)
The lower S/N numbers (presumably with an earlier date of manufacture) have the more desirable Pine switches. It appears that the transition occurred somewhere between 1132628 and 1155854, but certainly keyboards with serial numbers below 1132628 should have Pine switches.
Thank you Hypersphere, more good info! I'm keeping a database of Northgate serial numbers and characteristics, which is up to 196 keyboards now. Their serial numbers went through several revisions, which are starting to make some sense, but I still need more examples to nail it all down, especially for the Gen2 models. Here's what I have so far.
The Gen1 Northgates (gold label), which were apparently all the Omnikey 102 model, originally having a six digit serial number (on those with the fragile paper label still there) and an 8 digit inspection or Q/C number on a separate, smaller label. The earliest one I have on record, which I happen to own, is dated 7/15/1988, and has a serial number of 117235. The six digit number began with a "1" (the 1 was probably a placeholder) and was probably sequential. This changed to a hyphenated number with a three digit prefix and four digit suffix. The first three digits were 00x, where x was 4, 5, or 6, and that was probably a month code (in 1989) since it closely corresponds to the date on the paper label.
Gen2 Northgates apparently came out in July 1989, and the serial number format changed at this point. Early Gen2 Northgates had a six digit serial number beginning with "0" and also had a date on the label. The earliest Gen2 on my list is 89/07 and serial 011797. That number format was used through January 1990, with the latest on the list being 061114 with a date of 90/01. To that point I have only 102 and Plus models listed.
The Gen2 format then changed to a sequential serial number followed by an alphanumeric year/month code that probably started over each month. For example, 001752-0B (1752nd keyboard built in February 1990). Some boards from this period had an additional suffix which might have represented a model variation or option. This numbering ran through December 1990 (0L) or so and included 102, Plus, Ultra, and 101 models.
Gen3 models came out sometime in late 1990 or early 1991. The first one on record with a surviving date label is 02/18/91. The serial number format changed again, with the date suffix gone, and a using a seven digit number. The first digit appears to have represented the model number with 1=101, 2=102, 4=Ultra-T, 5=Ultra, and 6=Evolution. The rest of the number was probably sequential. So far no Gen3 Plus models on record; that model might have been Gen2 only.
Gen4 models had Windows keys and an indicator LED in the up-arrow key. Those were branded Northgate or Avant (apparently concurrently) and had two serial number formats. Early (presumably) ones continued the Gen3 format, but with a first digit of 7 for the first digit for both 101P (Avant Prime) and Ultra-T (Avant Stellar). 102P and Ultra-TP examples had an 8 or 9 as the first digit. Later (presumably) examples had a five digit serial number, probably sequential, with numbers beginning with (so far) 18, 19, or 20.
This is all speculation, based on individual keyboards I've found online, and a work in progress, not intended to be the final word. Thank you to everyone who has helped by providing numbers, photos, and information! I wish I had detailed info on the switch details, but that will take more research. Note that I'm keeping a similar list of Focus and Monterey keyboards.