What's up with Alp SKCM Blue being so hard to find?

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cineraphael

01 Feb 2019, 16:20

The question that probably stuck in Alp guy's head: Why did Blue Alp are much rarer than The White Alp?

Possible Cause:

- Recycle Center Destroy them?
- Low Demand when then was new?
- Unreliable?
- Too old?


Blue Alp cost like $150+ and up to $700 on ebay!

Anakey

01 Feb 2019, 16:27

Blue Alps were only in production from about 1985- late 1988 so over a very short timeline relatively speaking considering the dominance of IBM model M at that time and the lack of computers in the home because of the still high cost back then meant there were proportionally very few boards with blue alps produced. White Alps on the other hand were in production far longer and at a time when consumer keyboards for home use were becoming poipular hence are far more numerous then the blue version that preceded it. This is before you take account of the 30 year period since they were produced for that supply to dwindle due to being destroyed or already in use in a board already. Added to that the desirability because influential members of the community have it in their opinion the best ckicky switch and that is why there are high prices because of the lack of supply and the great demand

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Hypersphere

01 Feb 2019, 16:33

It's akin to why there are so few T. rex running around these days. Evolution, competition, and that pesky asteroid hitting the Yucatan. ;)

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cineraphael

01 Feb 2019, 17:55

Anakey wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 16:27
Blue Alps were only in production from about 1985- late 1988
Man, that's suck why did they have to stop the blue so early! It is prefect as it is!

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keycap

01 Feb 2019, 20:38

they're not even rare switches, they're just extremely easy to overprice. "old computer stuff" that isn't ibm or apple is viewed as non collectible and is usually just thrown away, but some sellers on ebay have realized that blue alps are """rare""" so the price went up a lot since around 2014 or so. in reality tons of these keyboards are being thrown out every day, only a few people check to see if they're even valuable to begin with.

i'd love to try skcm blue but they are not worth the absurd price imo, especially since i'd want a NOS example

User avatar
cineraphael

01 Feb 2019, 20:51

keycap wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 20:38
In reality tons of these keyboards are being thrown out every day
I think this is the main reason why Blue Alp are expensive. They need to learn to reuse it or at least give it to a thrift shop or somewhere that is not a recycle center where they get scrap and destroyed. I feel like I born in the wrong decade where I can buy a Blue Alp Omnikey for only $89.

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keycap

01 Feb 2019, 21:02

honestly, paying that much for a blue alps keyboard is realistic even in today's standards if you find the right person. that's about what they *should* cost ;)

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Chyros

01 Feb 2019, 21:48

Blue Alps are not hard to find. They're just expensive.

The Dell AT101 has come down in price SIGNIFICANTLY after the big inflation of two years ago as well. Blue Alps will also go down at some point, I think.

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cineraphael

01 Feb 2019, 21:51

Chyros wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 21:48
Blue Alps are not hard to find. They're just expensive.

The Dell AT101 has come down in price SIGNIFICANTLY after the big inflation of two years ago as well. Blue Alps will also go down at some point, I think.
That's what I love to hear! :D

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TheInverseKey

01 Feb 2019, 21:53

cineraphael wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 21:51
Chyros wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 21:48
Blue Alps are not hard to find. They're just expensive.

The Dell AT101 has come down in price SIGNIFICANTLY after the big inflation of two years ago as well. Blue Alps will also go down at some point, I think.
That's what I love to hear! :D
Brown Alps have recently dropped in price as well. Prices go up and down all the time like waves or when someone makes a big deal about a certain switch in the community.

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Hypersphere

01 Feb 2019, 23:20

Our community should form a conspiracy to rave about rubber domes and other keyboard types we tend to disfavor (if we could agree!). The object would be to create a diversion and consequent reaction in the market to drive down prices of the items we actually like.

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Muirium
µ

01 Feb 2019, 23:24

The way the wider nerd world speaks of “mechanical keyboards” as though “brown” and “blue” were attribes of all switches, and not just the needless to even name MX, it’s almost like this is already the case.

Nah. I think Model F etc. prices vary by something more than just hearsay. There’s speculation, and a certain (at least semi-) informed elitism beyond the usual YouTube or Wirecutter threshold of interest.

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Chyros

01 Feb 2019, 23:40

Muirium wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 23:24
The way the wider nerd world speaks of “mechanical keyboards” as though “brown” and “blue” were attribes of all switches, and not just the needless to even name MX, it’s almost like this is already the case.
Yeah, that's always annoyed me a lot xD .

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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

02 Feb 2019, 00:55

Blue alps aren't even that "rare" in the sense that they are hard to find. They are certainly "rare" in the sense that their slice of the pie chart of "total number of keyboards floating around in the wild" is comparatively thin - but usually at any given time you can find 2-4 blue alps boards just on eBay alone. One just sold yesterday for $150 + shipping (a samsung branded chicony kb-5161), and there is another similar board ending today or tomorrow. So they are there, you just have to know what to look for. A similar figure could be said for the Japanese, Chinese, and reddit marketplaces as well.
cineraphael wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 20:51
I feel like I born in the wrong decade where I can buy a Blue Alp Omnikey for only $89.
Keep in mind that $89 back in the late 80's is much different than $89 in 2019. In my opinion, the prices for blue alps right now is about right; the $150-$250 range for boards seems pretty reasonable to me, based on condition. The switches are actually worth it at that price point, because I think they are that good of switches - but keep in mind this is from a biased alps guy point of view. I think you could even make a case that it's fair for NOS boards to go for crazy amounts of money from a collection standpoint as well - since NOS blues aren't made anymore and are 30ish years old - but again, that's only a case I would make from a collectors standpoint, and it's here where my mini-rant begins...

I've always stood by my claim that the general alps audience would not be able to tell the difference between NOS blue alps and blue alps in "really good condition," - and by "really good condition" I mean from a clean and perhaps even slightly used blue alps keyboard. Said a slightly different way: for the general audience, I don't think there is much of any difference between NOS blue alps and blue alps in "really good condition." People have in their head that the ONLY alps worth investing in are NIB or NOS switches - but that's simply untrue. I have 2 NIB blue alps boards, and both feel awesome - certainly the pinnacle of blue alps smoothness - but I also have had plenty of not-NIB, used, yellowed, or shined blue alps boards that feel and sound just as good.

Consider this as well, buying NOS blue alps, or any NOS switch for that matter, is putting yourself in a dilemma: do you use the switches making them not NOS anymore, or do you preserve their NOSness and never use them just to say that you have them?

I kinda lost track of the point I was trying to make in my little rant - as is per usual when I go on little rants... but anyway, that's my two cents.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

02 Feb 2019, 01:11

//gainsborough wrote:
02 Feb 2019, 00:55

are NIB or NOS switches - but that's simply untrue.
That is the case in many scenarios. I have bought new-in-box keyboards (including Alps and buckling springs) that had major problems - rough feel in the case of Alps and broken rivets or some sort of water-like damage in the case of IBM) that were dramatically inferior to used keyboards that had obviously seen quite a bit of use but still felt great.

It was nice in the old days when designers built in the option of taking things apart and repairing or refurbishing them.

Polecat

02 Feb 2019, 04:45

Personally I think that people tend to oversimplify things, but at least part of that is for a good reason. That is, when we're looking at buying an (expensive) keyboard without seeing/feeling it in person we want there to be an easy way to be sure it's what we're expecting. Visually it's very hard to tell condition, but if a keyboard is NIB/NOS it has a much better chance of feeling good. Similarly, when we're looking at switch type blue Alps were built for a much shorter time than white Alps, and had a lot fewer changes, so it's much easier to predict what blue Alps will feel like. I challenge anyone to tell blue Alps switches from early whites in a blind test, but it's not easy to tell early whites from later ones by looking at a computer screen like it is to tell blues from whites. That, plus the tendency to assume all blues are the same and all whites are the same, gives blues the edge and makes them more desirable, and therefore more pricey. Plus someone who's had a bad experience with the later white switches is more likely to assume all whites are like that.

As far as blues being "rare", that's because they were made for a much shorter time than whites, in the early days when computers were expensive and not yet common, and because most of the keyboards that used them became obsolete due to their XT-only or non-extended AT layouts, as already mentioned. I worked at a surplus place back in the '90s, and we literally couldn't give away a keyboard that wasn't an extended AT style. A few of us appreciated Alps switches at the time, which is why I kept selected ones for my own use, but I crammed literally thousands of keyboards, including those with blue Alps switches, in the dumpster. because nobody would take them even for free.

As far as "using them up", I just don't buy that argument. I have early Alps keyboards (blue and white) that I typed on for long enough to wear the legends off the caps, and I never killed any switches or had them change in feel or sound. That's not true of the later (white) Alps switches, however, so that's another point in favor of blues, even if early whites are just as good. But even if they *did* wear out I'd still be typing on them. What's the point of spending hundreds of dollars on a keyboard and then not using it, just so the next owner can have a perfect example for his/her collection? (I'm typing this on a blue Alps KB-101A that I rescued from the trash back in the '90s and freshened up less than a year ago after the guys here talked me into not using it as a switch donor...)

ollir

02 Feb 2019, 13:08

//gainsborough wrote:
02 Feb 2019, 00:55
Consider this as well, buying NOS blue alps, or any NOS switch for that matter, is putting yourself in a dilemma: do you use the switches making them not NOS anymore, or do you preserve their NOSness and never use them just to say that you have them?
From my point of view, what's the point of having a device designed to be used and then not use it. You'd have a keyboard that you would enjoy using no end, but then you deny yourself the joy. Seems kinda backwards to me. I mean, it's a keyboard; not some antique vase or a NIB Gutenberg Bible. I think collectors can be weird bunch of people :p

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cineraphael

05 Feb 2019, 16:59

ollir wrote:
02 Feb 2019, 13:08
I mean, it's a keyboard; not some antique vase or a NIB Gutenberg Bible. I think collectors can be weird bunch of people :p
I would use Blue Alp everyday though!

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Myoth

05 Feb 2019, 17:00

it's Alps for crying out loud

mog_genius88

07 Feb 2019, 18:05

I think im one of like 3 people that highly prefer pine whites over blues in both feel and sound

Polecat

08 Feb 2019, 02:58

mog_genius88 wrote:
07 Feb 2019, 18:05
I think im one of like 3 people that highly prefer pine whites over blues in both feel and sound
Which pine whites? They're not all created equal.

mog_genius88

08 Feb 2019, 04:18

Polecat wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 02:58
mog_genius88 wrote:
07 Feb 2019, 18:05
I think im one of like 3 people that highly prefer pine whites over blues in both feel and sound
Which pine whites? They're not all created equal.
I have the ones in this picture. Dunno how they compare to other skcm whites. wiki/File:Focus-FK5001_switch_detail_wh ... _slits.jpg

Polecat

08 Feb 2019, 07:03

mog_genius88 wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 04:18
Polecat wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 02:58

Which pine whites? They're not all created equal.
I have the ones in this picture. Dunno how they compare to other skcm whites. wiki/File:Focus-FK5001_switch_detail_wh ... _slits.jpg
Ahhh, but besides different alphanumerics on the mold markings they all look like that! I'm not trying to be difficult, just pointing out that there were several changes to pine Alps switches and at least some of them significantly affected the sound and feel. Very early ones had no Alps legend on the upper housing, and the examples I have in a couple keyboards are (to me, at least) indistinguishable from blues. Some of the later (?) ones with a logo were very similar in feel and sound, but other versions were quite different.

Others here have painstakingly documented the changes in internal parts, but as far as I know we don't yet have terminology for the different sub-versions as a unit, nor any sure way to identify or predict which version they are from a photo (besides possibly the early logoless ones). I hope to add to the knowledge base eventually by documenting the several dozen early Alps keyboards in my own collection, but no promises!

mog_genius88

08 Feb 2019, 07:19

Polecat wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 07:03
mog_genius88 wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 04:18
Polecat wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 02:58

Which pine whites? They're not all created equal.
I have the ones in this picture. Dunno how they compare to other skcm whites. wiki/File:Focus-FK5001_switch_detail_wh ... _slits.jpg
Ahhh, but besides different alphanumerics on the mold markings they all look like that! I'm not trying to be difficult, just pointing out that there were several changes to pine Alps switches and at least some of them significantly affected the sound and feel. Very early ones had no Alps legend on the upper housing, and the examples I have in a couple keyboards are (to me, at least) indistinguishable from blues. Some of the later (?) ones with a logo were very similar in feel and sound, but other versions were quite different.

Others here have painstakingly documented the changes in internal parts, but as far as I know we don't yet have terminology for the different sub-versions as a unit, nor any sure way to identify or predict which version they are from a photo (besides possibly the early logoless ones). I hope to add to the knowledge base eventually by documenting the several dozen early Alps keyboards in my own collection, but no promises!
I didn't think you were being difficult. I wanted to know how the ones I have compare to others.

I checked the wiki and saw that the real early ones don't have logos (like you said), and the ones after that had medium logos (like the one I linked), and the later ones had the full sized logos. Hope to find some more information on them in the future.

I liked whites because of the different pitch the short switch plate offered and the added weight of the springs. Blues were far too light for me.

Polecat

09 Feb 2019, 05:30

mog_genius88 wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 07:19

I didn't think you were being difficult. I wanted to know how the ones I have compare to others.

I checked the wiki and saw that the real early ones don't have logos (like you said), and the ones after that had medium logos (like the one I linked), and the later ones had the full sized logos. Hope to find some more information on them in the future.

I liked whites because of the different pitch the short switch plate offered and the added weight of the springs. Blues were far too light for me.
Thanks for the follow-up, and for specifying what you like about the (slightly later) white Alps switches (and acknowledging the differences!) I was basically told it was pointless and hopeless to try to identify and understand these changes, almost as if folks prefer it to remain a mystery. But I'd really like to go further, using the early Alps keyboards in my own collection as a start.

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Hypersphere

09 Feb 2019, 17:31

The overall typing experience depends not only on the differences from one type of switch to another or the differences from one subtype of switch to another, but also on the chassis in which the switches are mounted.

I am still puzzling over the difference between two of my SKCM blue Alps boards. One is a Packard-Bell T8105 and the other is a Leading Edge DC-3014. Both are full-size boards, and both have pine housings and long switchplates, but the sound and feel of the Leading Edge DC-3014 are considerably better. The difference would seem to be in the chassis, but just which aspects of this make the difference, I do not know.

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Chyros

09 Feb 2019, 19:06

Hypersphere wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 17:31
The overall typing experience depends not only on the differences from one type of switch to another or the differences from one subtype of switch to another, but also on the chassis in which the switches are mounted.

I am still puzzling over the difference between two of my SKCM blue Alps boards. One is a Packard-Bell T8105 and the other is a Leading Edge DC-3014. Both are full-size boards, and both have pine housings and long switchplates, but the sound and feel of the Leading Edge DC-3014 are considerably better. The difference would seem to be in the chassis, but just which aspects of this make the difference, I do not know.
SKCMAG itself went through several iterations as well, don't forget. Later blue Alps feel noticeably different from earlier ones, I've noticed.

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Hypersphere

09 Feb 2019, 19:20

Chyros wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 19:06
Hypersphere wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 17:31
The overall typing experience depends not only on the differences from one type of switch to another or the differences from one subtype of switch to another, but also on the chassis in which the switches are mounted.

I am still puzzling over the difference between two of my SKCM blue Alps boards. One is a Packard-Bell T8105 and the other is a Leading Edge DC-3014. Both are full-size boards, and both have pine housings and long switchplates, but the sound and feel of the Leading Edge DC-3014 are considerably better. The difference would seem to be in the chassis, but just which aspects of this make the difference, I do not know.
SKCMAG itself went through several iterations as well, don't forget. Later blue Alps feel noticeably different from earlier ones, I've noticed.
Have you been able to determine which characteristics are different between early and late blue Alps? Are there any apparent physical differences?

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Chyros

09 Feb 2019, 19:47

Hypersphere wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 19:20
Chyros wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 19:06
Hypersphere wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 17:31
The overall typing experience depends not only on the differences from one type of switch to another or the differences from one subtype of switch to another, but also on the chassis in which the switches are mounted.

I am still puzzling over the difference between two of my SKCM blue Alps boards. One is a Packard-Bell T8105 and the other is a Leading Edge DC-3014. Both are full-size boards, and both have pine housings and long switchplates, but the sound and feel of the Leading Edge DC-3014 are considerably better. The difference would seem to be in the chassis, but just which aspects of this make the difference, I do not know.
SKCMAG itself went through several iterations as well, don't forget. Later blue Alps feel noticeably different from earlier ones, I've noticed.
Have you been able to determine which characteristics are different between early and late blue Alps? Are there any apparent physical differences?
The most visually obvious one is the switchplate; SKCMAG is one of the very few Alps switches that could come with ALL FOUR types of switchplate. The click leaf also changed over time, apparently (presumably curving v. bending or something to that effect).

I was first made aware of these differences after I posted my original review on the Acer. Someone from one of the Asian communities pointed out that the Acer used a "second generation clicky leaf". I just looked up the comment, and he provided a link to a board with a first-generation leaf: http://mousefan.telcontar.net/image/pc8801.htm .

The differences have apparently been known in the Asian community for years now. I'm not surprised - Mousefan and Sandy know a huge amount about Alps, among others.

Polecat

09 Feb 2019, 22:45

Chyros wrote:
09 Feb 2019, 19:47
The most visually obvious one is the switchplate; SKCMAG is one of the very few Alps switches that could come with ALL FOUR types of switchplate. The click leaf also changed over time, apparently (presumably curving v. bending or something to that effect).

I was first made aware of these differences after I posted my original review on the Acer. Someone from one of the Asian communities pointed out that the Acer used a "second generation clicky leaf". I just looked up the comment, and he provided a link to a board with a first-generation leaf: http://mousefan.telcontar.net/image/pc8801.htm .

The differences have apparently been known in the Asian community for years now. I'm not surprised - Mousefan and Sandy know a huge amount about Alps, among others.
Thank you, Chyros and Hypersphere. Great stuff, I need to do some translating and reading!

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