ALPS CP10SJ550A Kanji Keyboard

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JP!

30 May 2019, 19:03

This just arrived from in the mail from Japan and wanted to share. I haven't done a full teardown yet but here are some poor quality pictures and a little information on what I have learned about it.
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What is it?
  • battleship
  • aircraft carrier
  • ???
Some call it the Yamato or the space battleship Yamato, a super-capital ship out classing previously known types of large warships.
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I counted 542 keys with a 30×16 matrix and 9 usuable shift keys, which makes it among the biggest keyboards ever made. It also tops the scales at about 11.92 kg.

Rather than making use of a kana-to-kanji conversion as used in modern times this keyboard truly is full-size with the ability to key in over 4000 unique characters. There are 9 characters on each of the main keys on the right side and you would select one of them with something like a numeric keypad on the left side.
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Interestingly in the early 1980s, Yamada Hisao offhandedly mentioned in the book "Cognitive aspects" that "With the advent of modern electronics, Alps’s Push Key input device actually provided about 3,500 push keys, each 6 mm square, for direct inputting." A connection of mine reached out to Alps Electric and many others but could never get any confirmation for this existing. A keyboard with 3,500 individual keys sounds outlandish but perhaps plausible as a 59x59 matrix gives you 3,481 keys while using tiny 6 mm push buttons would reduce the overall size. Regardless such a keyboard would be quite large and difficult for operators to use.

Perhaps this is the closest analog to such a device as described if you consider each 1/9th of a key a separate key. I measured each character to be about 4 mm square.

Although this keyboard was manufactured by Alps Electric it was likely used with one of Morisawa's computerized phototypesetting systems. Morisawa is a company that has developed and manufactured typesetting equipment since the 1920's and today is the leading digital type foundry in Japan.

More Info on this company:
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%A2 ... 5%E3%83%AF

Morisawa's MK-110 (Skip to 0:42)
Morisawa's MK-300
Image

This particular keyboard seems to be a later revision compared with other known examples of those from Morisawa's machines so the machine this particular keyboard went to is yet unknown. The initial profile where the wrists meet the keyboard appears lower and more defined to improve ergonomics. The keys of the main matrix are raised rather than flush with the top shell of the case. Looking at the serial number I believe this keyboard to have been manufactured in the 6th month of 1989 while being the 394th unit of this type produced.
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[Todo:]
Another Alps rabbit hole:
Maybe related to this keyboard and Morisawa?

A few pictures for now:
Spoiler:
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Last edited by JP! on 30 May 2019, 19:08, edited 1 time in total.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

30 May 2019, 19:07

You bought it!!!

'Grats man. Definitely a on-of-a-kind board.

I didn't know you were into ortho linear

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JP!

30 May 2019, 19:13

snacksthecat wrote:
30 May 2019, 19:07
You bought it!!!

'Grats man. Definitely a on-of-a-kind board.

I didn't know you were into ortho linear
Not ortho linear per se but more so since it's Alps, unique, historically interesting to me at least, and super cool.
Last edited by JP! on 30 May 2019, 19:21, edited 1 time in total.

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ZedTheMan

30 May 2019, 19:19

542 keys. That is a big boy.

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depletedvespene

30 May 2019, 19:35

Woaaaaah... just... WOAH. My gast is flabbered.

I could look at all the keys for hours (and spend days... WEEKS! playing with layout possibilities).

On one hand I want to charge you with the sacred duty of plugging this to a Teensy++++++**^^ controller, so it can be put to use... and other other hand I want to charge you with the sacred duty of keeping this enormous keyboard intact and care for it as it is.

Look at all the variants for the (Arabic) numbers and (Latin) letters - it couldn't be more obvious that this was meant for typesetting.

Did I mention my gast is flabbered?

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depletedvespene

30 May 2019, 19:39

Also, for shirts and gargoyles, you should take a picture of this with a 40% keyboard (or a 60%) placed either centered or over its top left corner.

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JP!

30 May 2019, 19:43

depletedvespene wrote:
30 May 2019, 19:39
Also, for shirts and gargoyles, you should take a picture of this with a 40% keyboard (or a 60%) placed either centered or over its top left corner.
:lol:

How's this?
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Dingster

30 May 2019, 20:08

Now uh....convert it :)
Seems like daily driver material for the tiproman :lol:

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JP!

30 May 2019, 20:17

Dingster wrote:
30 May 2019, 20:08
Now uh....convert it :)
Seems like daily driver material for the tiproman :lol:
So the large matrix on the right is basically a large daughter-board with a ribbon cable connector so at the very least that part can be converted without having to worry about a controller or other electronics.

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Dingster

30 May 2019, 20:26

I cant even imagine the layout you'd have to come up with :lol:

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LightningXI

30 May 2019, 20:27

This is a massive, chonky board. A piece of history for sure...

Just imagine all the characters you can output!!

Love it. Thanks for sharing.

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Drclick

30 May 2019, 20:47

Make sure you have clear photos of caps, or you can't put them back to the right place after you take them off :lol:

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Menuhin

30 May 2019, 22:02

I cannot think of many other historical keyboards that are more massive than this one... (I know... you also have the IBM 3741 Data Station / System 3, but let's just talk about the size of the keyboard area for now)
I am glad it now belongs to one of the dedicated enthusiasts, so we can at least know more about it, through your generous sharing, staring at the photos and its dissection while rubbing our type-lustful fingers. :ugeek:

And...
...being the 394th unit of this type produced...
Where are those 300+ boards now? In the Japanese junk yards?

You've done it again - I believe you're a sane (or saint) collector.
Thanks for doing such works for some of us who dare not to dream so big.

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swampangel

30 May 2019, 22:10

Tangent, but how do you like your Embody chair? (and specifically, have you noticed it getting creaky over time?)

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Raumfahrer

31 May 2019, 04:09

beautiful!

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CountNoctua

31 May 2019, 04:29

Whoa, I think technically that earns the classification "mothership". :o :D

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JP!

31 May 2019, 04:56

Menuhin wrote:
30 May 2019, 22:02
I cannot think of many other historical keyboards that are more massive than this one... (I know... you also have the IBM 3741 Data Station / System 3, but let's just talk about the size of the keyboard area for now)
I am glad it now belongs to one of the dedicated enthusiasts, so we can at least know more about it, through your generous sharing, staring at the photos and its dissection while rubbing our type-lustful fingers. :ugeek:

And...
...being the 394th unit of this type produced...
Where are those 300+ boards now? In the Japanese junk yards?

You've done it again - I believe you're a sane (or saint) collector.
Thanks for doing such works for some of us who dare not to dream so big.
Yeah speaking of the sheer size, now that I've got this one it is quite difficult to store. I ended up basically clearing a whole shelf of my storage rack just for this one keyboard. Also it doesn't fit on the 3741.

No telling where all those boards are. No doubt some ended up being recycled. I've found one reference a couple systems that are kept alive solely or data extraction. I also suspect that there are still some type shops that still have some of this equipment. The sort that still take orders by fax.

I think I'm mostly insane with temporary fits of sanity ;)

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JP!

31 May 2019, 05:03

swampangel wrote:
30 May 2019, 22:10
Tangent, but how do you like your Embody chair? (and specifically, have you noticed it getting creaky over time?)
The Embody is so much better than my old beat up Aeron. The Aeron had a rim that would always dig into my legs. I don't much care for the arm rests. One broke during shipping and I couldn't fix it. The Steelcase Leap is much better in that regard. I haven't noticed any creaking but I am not real heavy.

pumasocks

31 May 2019, 06:33

That's an incredible find. Did you get this from eBay or somewhere else?

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Guchay

31 May 2019, 07:11

Well shit, now I need to go dig up the one up I found which I for sure know didn't come with skcl switches. Maybe I found an earlier / later model to the one you found, or maybe something completely different. Who knows, maybe I'm going to have to attempt to visit my local abandoned barn and try and fish one of these out.

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Chyros

31 May 2019, 13:06

Absolutely magnificent.

And with SKCL Green, too, let alone the sphericals (and relegs). What a board!

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E3E

31 May 2019, 14:29

Calling the side keys spherical is definitely putting it loosely. :P

They are the same profile found on certain MSXes and Bondwell laptops and so on, which look spherical, but feel incredibly flat to the touch. I call it MSX uniform profile.

As for the flat keys across the main board, no idea if that's a profile seen elsewhere. I can only vaguely think of examples of similar flat keys, but I'm unsure; no exact matches come to mind in terms of profile.

This thing must ping like it's going out of style if you sweep your fingers across its many keys. :evilgeek:

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ppCircle

31 May 2019, 14:34

Big board for big guy

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Guchay

31 May 2019, 14:38

I find it kind of ironic I ask JP if he would sell me his texas instruments board, but says he won't but needs to downsize his collection. If this his definition of downsizing then we must be living on two different planets. Only saying this because I'm just a little bit jealous.... just a tad.

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depletedvespene

31 May 2019, 14:42

Chyros wrote:
31 May 2019, 13:06
Absolutely magnificent.

And with SKCL Green, too, let alone the sphericals (and relegs). What a board!
If you decide you review it, it'll be better if you trael to JP!'s instead of having the keyboard sent to you. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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depletedvespene

31 May 2019, 14:44

E3E wrote:
31 May 2019, 14:29
This thing must ping like it's going out of style if you sweep your fingers across its many keys. :evilgeek:
Never mind the photatos... I want a phideo of that RIGHT NOW.

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JP!

31 May 2019, 14:50

depletedvespene wrote:
31 May 2019, 14:42
Chyros wrote:
31 May 2019, 13:06
Absolutely magnificent.

And with SKCL Green, too, let alone the sphericals (and relegs). What a board!
If you decide you review it, it'll be better if you trael to JP!'s instead of having the keyboard sent to you. :lol: :lol: :lol:
Yes Chyros should visit :) There are other board's I'm sure would be interesting to review. I don't have the proper gear to be doing videos. Also any videos I'd make would be lacking in colorful expletives.

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Guchay

31 May 2019, 14:57

JP! wrote:
31 May 2019, 14:50
depletedvespene wrote:
31 May 2019, 14:42
Chyros wrote:
31 May 2019, 13:06
Absolutely magnificent.

And with SKCL Green, too, let alone the sphericals (and relegs). What a board!
If you decide you review it, it'll be better if you trael to JP!'s instead of having the keyboard sent to you. :lol: :lol: :lol:
Yes Chyros should visit :) There are other board's I'm sure would be interesting to review. I don't have the proper gear to be doing videos. Also any videos I'd make would be lacking in colorful expletives.
Good thing I'm going to start posting videos, kind of why I've actually been posting my boards. Does this mean, if I come down and visit I can at least touch your keyboard(s), if I don't end up stealing them that is?

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JP!

31 May 2019, 15:01

Guchay wrote:
31 May 2019, 07:11
Well shit, now I need to go dig up the one up I found which I for sure know didn't come with skcl switches. Maybe I found an earlier / later model to the one you found, or maybe something completely different. Who knows, maybe I'm going to have to attempt to visit my local abandoned barn and try and fish one of these out.
You have an abandoned keyboard barn? :o Please rescue them.

Also yeah about downsizing...I found it easier just to upgrade my storage area. The TI board is in my top 10 of favorite boards and I usually bring it with me to meetups so would be one of the last to go. By downsizing I will eventually be selling of extra IBM stuff like Model M's and F's and other random things which I lost interest in.

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JP!

31 May 2019, 15:06

Guchay wrote:
31 May 2019, 14:57
Good thing I'm going to start posting videos, kind of why I've actually been posting my boards. Does this mean, if I come down and visit I can at least touch your keyboard(s), if I don't end up stealing them that is?
Yes if you promise not to steal any and you are fine with an armed guard present for our protection ;)

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