An interesting find: NIB IBM Model M blue Alps(?) Keyboard

neozhou

05 Jan 2018, 12:38

Hi folks, I have recently gotten an IBM model M 1390119 keyboard with blue Alps-like switches. This is seen as a clone variant or even a fake counterpart of famous IBM model M Buckling-spring keyboard.

I purchased this keyboard from a recycling vendor who just have done a deal with a large public funded research institute. This keyboard is within this big recycling contract. Actually, he got two keyboards, I believe another one was purchased by a personal refurbish keyboard dealer.

Due to its NIB condition, it comes with original box, accessories and documents which are almost the same as traditional IBM model M Buckling-spring keyboards built in 1986-1987.
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Look at the metal Black IBM badge
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No label on the back, but I can see a label on the inner box, saying it is built in 11 June 86
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The screws are different with IBM model M Buckling-spring's
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Have a close look at controller IC which says Intel 1980
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Unfortunately, I cannot see any other information useful on the pcb.
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Guys, if you have any idea or information could be share with me/us, please post it out.
Last edited by neozhou on 05 Jan 2018, 12:42, edited 1 time in total.

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Myoth

05 Jan 2018, 12:41

Could you take pictures of the switches ? The only Model M clone found that was this close to the original HAD Blue Alps. I don't know what you mean by Blue Alps like :/

IKSLM

05 Jan 2018, 12:44

Yes, so many pictures but none showing the switches....

neozhou

05 Jan 2018, 12:47

Myoth wrote: Could you take pictures of the switches ? The only Model M clone found that was this close to the original HAD Blue Alps. I don't know what you mean by Blue Alps like :/
Mate, check it out.
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Myoth

05 Jan 2018, 12:52

Those are definitly Blue Alps, you've found one of those taobao clones in NIB condition, nice find !!!

With all the little font problems and the non-present IBM sticker, I think it's safe to say that it's a counterfeit, the other thread was skeptic about it, now I don't really know what could prove this wrong...

All of these informations-papers about it are impressive, so much effort into a fake !

neozhou

05 Jan 2018, 13:04

Myoth wrote: Those are definitly Blue Alps, you've found one of those taobao clones in NIB condition, nice find !!!

With all the little font problems and the non-present IBM sticker, I think it's safe to say that it's a counterfeit, the other thread was skeptic about it, now I don't really know what could prove this wrong...

All of these informations-papers about it are impressive, so much effort into a fake !
Here is the other thread: photos-f62/ibm-blue-alps-t12798.html

"Compgeke" said " .....the back label says 1986 but the controller IC says 1989 as a copyright...."

Meantime, I don't intend to prove this keyboard is fake or not. It is just very interesting.

User avatar
Myoth

05 Jan 2018, 13:10

another thread about it : keyboards-f2/blue-alps-ibm-model-m-t15382.html

It is very interesting, but I think it's also interesting because it's a clone, imagine, a clone made with one of the best (subjective alert) switches ? I find that funny to be quite honest :D

EDIT : interestingly enough, the thread you mentionned had a 1390131 and yours is a 1390119

neozhou

05 Jan 2018, 13:16

Myoth wrote: another thread about it : keyboards-f2/blue-alps-ibm-model-m-t15382.html

It is very interesting, but I think it's also interesting because it's a clone, imagine, a clone made with one of the best (subjective alert) switches ? I find that funny to be quite honest :D

EDIT : interestingly enough, the thread you mentionned had a 1390131 and yours is a 1390119
Yeah, I just notice they are even not the same copy....

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ohaimark
Kingpin

05 Jan 2018, 13:28

Whew. I'm jealous.

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webwit
Wild Duck

05 Jan 2018, 14:50

Probably indeed a clone, but the only thing that niggles me is that it's too good. Is the case the same as original IBM or different? Any molding differences? If they're the same, it might be a refurbishment issue, maybe drop-in replacements. That would explain the different dates. Like, a school makes a deal with IBM in 1986 for a number of keyboards with 10 years refurbishments, the same part numbers. Then IBM sells to Lexmark. Then keyboards break in the school and they want the contract fulfilled. And IBM does, but uses a cheaper supplier instead of Lexmark.

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depletedvespene

05 Jan 2018, 14:53

webwit wrote: Probably indeed a clone, but the only thing that niggles me is that it's too good. Is the case the same as original IBM or different? Any molding differences? If they're the same, it might be a refurbishment issue, maybe drop-in replacements. That would explain the different dates. Like, a school makes a deal with IBM in 1986 for a number of keyboards with 10 years refurbishments, the same part numbers. Then IBM sells to Lexmark. Then keyboards break in the school and they want the contract fulfilled. And IBM does, but uses a cheaper supplier instead of Lexmark.
Sounds like a more probable thing.

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mike52787
Alps Aficionado

05 Jan 2018, 14:54

wew lads... finally one of these in good condition. Typically they are completely trashed. Nice find!

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Vecktrex

05 Jan 2018, 15:10

Excellent find! I'm a little bit apprehensive to call it a counterfeit just for the sheer amount of effort put into it. Especially with the Guide to Operations and other various papers included with it. It seems like there's more going on than meets the eye. Webwit's response seems probable... I just don't know of anyone that would go through that amount of effort to look like the real McCoy. Those keycaps look a little janky. Is it just me or are some of the function keys misaligned?

User avatar
mike52787
Alps Aficionado

05 Jan 2018, 15:14

Vecktrex wrote: Is it just me or are some of the function keys misaligned?
that's due to the excessively long stem on the function keys that is required to match the look of ibm's curved plate design.

User avatar
Vecktrex

05 Jan 2018, 15:24

mike52787 wrote:
Vecktrex wrote: Is it just me or are some of the function keys misaligned?
that's due to the excessively long stem on the function keys that is required to match the look of ibm's curved plate design.
Yeah... It's kind of hard for me to tell whether the keys themselves are misaligned or the printing is off. The printing on the caps themselves doesn't seem to be too great.
Spoiler:
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neozhou

05 Jan 2018, 15:29

Thanks you for all your replies. This is a interesting keyboard and all the papers and accessories are in good quality and very similar to real IBM model M.

I wish I know Japanese so I'm able to check Japanese webpage to see if there are useful information.

User avatar
Myoth

05 Jan 2018, 15:36

webwit wrote: Probably indeed a clone, but the only thing that niggles me is that it's too good. Is the case the same as original IBM or different? Any molding differences? If they're the same, it might be a refurbishment issue, maybe drop-in replacements. That would explain the different dates. Like, a school makes a deal with IBM in 1986 for a number of keyboards with 10 years refurbishments, the same part numbers. Then IBM sells to Lexmark. Then keyboards break in the school and they want the contract fulfilled. And IBM does, but uses a cheaper supplier instead of Lexmark.
It seems weird, and didn't IBM made drop-in Buckling spring keyboards ? I'm sure I've seen some XTs like that, I don't see why they wouldn't have done it for Ms. and if they were drop-in replacement then why have they a fake-looking IBM badge ? I don't really think this is. The keycaps are also ABS and pad-printed, this seems like too much of a downgrade ?
Vecktrex wrote: Excellent find! I'm a little bit apprehensive to call it a counterfeit just for the sheer amount of effort put into it. Especially with the Guide to Operations and other various papers included with it. It seems like there's more going on than meets the eye. Webwit's response seems probable... I just don't know of anyone that would go through that amount of effort to look like the real McCoy. Those keycaps look a little janky. Is it just me or are some of the function keys misaligned?
A lot of things are misaligned, like almost any 6 on the box, they're always bigger than the letter/numbers next to them.

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Chyros

05 Jan 2018, 16:47

VERY nice find, congratulations! :D We've seen one or two of these, but so far in crap condition. And NIB blue Alps are just amazing of course :D .

Still, I'm not sure why this would be a counterfeit. Why would they? Alps were very big at the time (and still are, their yearly revenue is almost $6 BILLION), they certainly weren't reliant on making fake keyboards for income.

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Norman_

05 Jan 2018, 17:00

Chyros wrote: VERY nice find, congratulations! :D We've seen one or two of these, but so far in crap condition. And NIB blue Alps are just amazing of course :D .

Still, I'm not sure why this would be a counterfeit. Why would they? Alps were very big at the time (and still are, their yearly revenue is almost $6 BILLION), they certainly weren't reliant on making fake keyboards for income.
To say they were in crap condition might be an understatement

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Polecat

05 Jan 2018, 17:52

Interesting that the box says it came with the XT Model 286 computer. Those were pretty scarce. Perhaps there's something different electronically and IBM didn't want to pay to tool up for a special Model M just for that model? I remember seeing a few aftermarket keyboards with an extra switch position for "extended XT" layout or something like that, which may also be related?

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clickykeyboards

05 Jan 2018, 17:55

Very interesting unicorn. Definitely the outer IBM box, the documentation, keyboard case plastics, IBM labels all look original for a 1986 model M keyboard that was packaged with an IBM PC. These pieces do not look like fakes.

Based on these, I would have expected there to be a 1390120 model M keyboard without LED lock lights inside the keyboard box like this old photos that I have from 2005. http://www.clickykeyboard.com/2005/1987 ... 20-002.jpg
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http://www.clickykeyboard.com/2005/1987 ... 20-003.jpg
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I have seen a couple early model M keyboards where the back label was missing, but normally there are other IBM stickers inside the keyboard assembly to help confirm and date the keyboard.

Looking at the OP's photos of the internal keyboard assembly and not using the typical 5.5mm nut screws found in all model M keyboards.

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At first, I would say that a third-party just swapped in the internal keyboard assembly of an Alps keyboard that happened to fit. At the beginning of the PC revolution, many competitors in the early computer industry were making their computers to be "100% IBM clones". ..but the SDL internal connector and wiring looks well done.

Does the keyboard work when plugged in today?

Do the LEDs on the internal keyboard assembly line up exactly with the holes on the front of the IBM keyboard case?

I would like to see more pictures.. but this definitely looks like a interesting keyboard...

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

05 Jan 2018, 22:28

I have one or two IBM 5162 XT 286s. Sadly, no keyboards with them but there is no particular reason for them to have different keyboards than normal Model M.

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Daniel Beardsmore

05 Jan 2018, 23:03

Well, here's the thing — according to the box, it's US made and comes from plant FL2 (wherever that is).

Is that reasonable? Isn't that a plant that made buckling spring Ms? Would the same plant import Ms from Taiwan and use the same part number as regular Ms? That seems awfully odd to me.

I'd expect to see a whole new plant number and "Made in " some Asian country, either Taiwan, or maybe Japan if IBM Japan was involved.

That bowed-out badge looks really shifty, too.

User avatar
JP!

06 Jan 2018, 00:03

I thought the same thing about the badge as well. Was this box completely sealed before you opened it?

neozhou

06 Jan 2018, 08:56

JP! wrote: I thought the same thing about the badge as well. Was this box completely sealed before you opened it?
From my point of view, the seal was perfect until I open it.

neozhou

06 Jan 2018, 12:12

Two more pics here.
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Perhaps there is information beneath the steel plate (maybe not certainly), but I don't plan to decompose the keyboard further because I have to remove all switches before doing so. However, I also think --- printing information on ether pcb or chips and making a nice metal badge are easy jobs for counterfeiters, in particular comparing with making top half and bottom half (both are blank unlike Model Ms), paperwork and accessories.

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Elrick

06 Jan 2018, 13:02

This is the exact same packaging as my NIB Model-M from 1986.

Same books and cable but your keyboard has the Alps addicts weak at the knees, from seeing their beloved Blue switch being used here. Very strange seeing this and of course goes straight into the category of "Believe it or Not".

Remembering Jack Palance presenting a US show in the 1980's. This would indeed be in it with his evil grin :D .

neozhou

06 Jan 2018, 14:15

Elrick wrote: This is the exact same packaging as my NIB Model-M from 1986.

Same books and cable but your keyboard has the Alps addicts weak at the knees, from seeing their beloved Blue switch being used here. Very strange seeing this and of course goes straight into the category of "Believe it or Not".

Remembering Jack Palance presenting a US show in the 1980's. This would indeed be in it with his evil grin :D .
Wow..what is your NIB Model M? 1390120 or 1390131? I'm jealous of you :geek:

neozhou

06 Jan 2018, 14:42

clickykeyboards wrote: Very interesting unicorn. Definitely the outer IBM box, the documentation, keyboard case plastics, IBM labels all look original for a 1986 model M keyboard that was packaged with an IBM PC. These pieces do not look like fakes.

Based on these, I would have expected there to be a 1390120 model M keyboard without LED lock lights inside the keyboard box like this old photos that I have from 2005. http://www.clickykeyboard.com/2005/1987 ... 20-002.jpg
Image

http://www.clickykeyboard.com/2005/1987 ... 20-003.jpg
Image


I have seen a couple early model M keyboards where the back label was missing, but normally there are other IBM stickers inside the keyboard assembly to help confirm and date the keyboard.

Looking at the OP's photos of the internal keyboard assembly and not using the typical 5.5mm nut screws found in all model M keyboards.

Image

At first, I would say that a third-party just swapped in the internal keyboard assembly of an Alps keyboard that happened to fit. At the beginning of the PC revolution, many competitors in the early computer industry were making their computers to be "100% IBM clones". ..but the SDL internal connector and wiring looks well done.

Does the keyboard work when plugged in today?

Do the LEDs on the internal keyboard assembly line up exactly with the holes on the front of the IBM keyboard case?

I would like to see more pictures.. but this definitely looks like a interesting keyboard...
The keyboard is in working condition and there is a jumper with which user can switch the keyboard working in XT or AT mode.

The LEDs look cheaper than original Model Ms.

Both pictures are updated in this thread

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mike52787
Alps Aficionado

06 Jan 2018, 16:08

FWIW Back in the day when I had one of these I tried to fit it into a normal model m case. No go. It's definitely not ibm made, its just a question as to why they decided to clone a model M instead of making their own boards like every other manufacturer did back in the day.

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