Two Keyboards; NIB IBM JX (6454042) and Chicony KB-5160XT


07 Oct 2019, 20:14

Hi Everyone,

New member here. New to mechanical keyboards as well. I'm a member of an Australian (Adelaide) group that specialises in collecting and using older computers, and occasionally I come across an interesting keyboard here and there that I'd like to find out a little more about.

Recently I started taking inventory of existing hardware and some new acquisitions, and found two keyboards that stood out as potentially interesting for different reasons.

The first is an IBM JX keyboard, model 6454042, that appears to be new old stock, albeit incomplete as it's missing the cable. Because the keyboard is in overall excellent shape (and I want to avoid damaging the caps without access to a proper key puller) I haven't removed a key to check, but I believe this uses Alps SKCL Green/Alps SKCL Compact switches.

Apparently the protocol is different from standard AT/PS2, but I'm struggling to find out what protocol it uses. I'm assuming it's specific to the PCjr / JX series machines, a machine I haven't yet had first-hand experience with, although I also found one thread that suggested it could be XT compatible.

I'd certainly be interested to know if it could be adapted to work with a more modern system, otherwise I could always find a JX owner looking for a keyboard that could make better use of it.

IBM_JX_1.jpg (367.27 KiB) Viewed 778 times
IBM_JX_2.jpg (121.61 KiB) Viewed 778 times
IBM_JX_3.jpg (166.66 KiB) Viewed 778 times

The second keyboard appears to be a variant of the Chicony KB-5160, labelled as the KB-5160XT.

I think it's somewhat self explanatory, being a solely XT (non-switchable) variant of the KB-5160, but I noticed it had some differences between this one and the specifications listed on the wiki. Namely that the model number "KB-5160XT" isn't listed at all, and this keyboard appears to use Cherry MX Black linear switches with double-shot keycaps, which isn't specified as a switch option on the wiki. The keycaps are yellowed - albeit less than the surrounding casing - which suggests they're likely made of ABS, but despite its age they haven't developed a shine either, so I can't be completely sure what their material is.

This one is heavily yellowed and doesn't currently work. Originally I considered scrapping it (not something I do often or take lightly), but had a change of heart after discovering it was a mechanical board from a known manufacturer.

Not exactly seeking information on this one, except perhaps if anyone is familiar with them, but am mentioning it since it's not a documented variant on the wiki and someone may consider that interesting to know.

KB5160_1.jpg (402.47 KiB) Viewed 778 times
KB5160_2.jpg (293.62 KiB) Viewed 778 times
KB5160_3.jpg (334.37 KiB) Viewed 778 times
KB5160_4.jpg (268.52 KiB) Viewed 778 times

I'll continue to lookout for other potentially interesting boards in my travels. I recently found a SiliconGraphics Granite Alps Bigfoot keyboard (P/N 9500900, PS/2, US production) complete with the SGI Indy computer system to match it.

I've also completed a back-to-metal restoration of a 1986 Australian-built IBM PC/XT 5160, but I suspect finding the matching Model M or Model F keyboard for that, especially at an affordable price given the interest surrounding them, will be more of a challenge. Someday perhaps.




07 Oct 2019, 22:52

Fascinating! I haven't ever seen a 5160XT in the west, only on taobao. And that JX keyboard is quite the lucky find as well. Nice job!


09 Oct 2019, 10:40

Cheers, although I'm undecided on whether to keep the IBM JX. It's currently on loan to me with the option of buying it for a reasonable price, but if it otherwise can't be adapted to connect to another vintage or modern machine, then there probably isn't much point.

Are there any solutions to adapt the signal coming from it, or does anyone know what protocol it uses? If it's XT standard for example, I have an IBM XT it could be used with.

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