Interesting History of Key Tronic

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Nuum

20 Mar 2015, 15:09

I've seen Cherry mentioning a capacitive switch in one of their catalogues, either the '82 one or earlier.

mr_a500

20 Mar 2015, 15:17

Yes, I saw a capacitive keyboard in the 1979 catalogue - but I thought the design was different, not foam & foil.

The Cherry foam & foil actually looks inferior to the Key Tronic one.

mr_a500

30 Apr 2015, 17:00

Image
It appears I was wrong. They didn't switch to ALPS when adding the numeric keypad on the Model 1. I've found a couple examples (both from 1979) of Hi-Tek keyboards with the numeric keypad. (note the wider font and flat-topped 3)
Hi-Tek numeric Model 1.JPG
Hi-Tek 1979 numeric Model 1.JPG

mr_a500

30 Apr 2015, 17:01

Back to Key Tronic... I found this ad from 1981. Notice the mention of "European ergonomic standards".
Key Tronic Computerworld Oct 81.jpg
(coincidentally, I just got a keyboard nearly the exact colour scheme as the "keyboard snake" :D )

The blue keyboard he's holding looks similar to the one in their other 1981 ad, about the new "butterfly" switch.
KeyboardAd1981.jpg

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

30 Apr 2015, 17:07

good stuff as usual. Thanks.

antreou

08 May 2015, 23:11

Here is an Alps without a numeric keypad
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alps9.jpg
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alps2.jpg
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mr_a500

09 May 2015, 16:04

antreou wrote: Here is an Alps without a numeric keypad
We were talking specifically about TRS-80 Model 1 ALPS without numeric keypad - to determine the earliest point when Radio Shack used ALPS.

Your keyboard is definitely not TRS-80. Judging by the symbols, it looks like it's from a teleprinter. That's a very strange ALPS switch. Can you take a clear closeup of the switch?

mr_a500

27 Jun 2015, 17:30

Back off topic to the TRS-80... I found out that they introduced the numeric keypad in 1979.
BYTE TRS-80 keypad.jpg
So I thought, "that settles it - TRS switched to ALPS after they added the numeric keypad, which means after 1979".

But then I finally found an ALPS TRS-80 without numeric keypad:
ALPS TRS-80.JPG
Unfortunately, there's no date sticker on the keyboard. So it's possible they used ALPS as an alternate keyboard supplier from the beginning.

But.. does anybody actually care? (Where's Beardsmore, by the way? I demand that he come back here! :x :mrgreen: )

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

27 Jun 2015, 17:59

I care. Very interesting.Yes Beardsmore has been gone a while, hope he comes back soon.
Now on that freebie I got from webwit the base of the switch reads "Key Tronic Spokane". The production date on this one is June 1982.

Image

Image

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tactica

27 Jun 2015, 18:55

seebart wrote: Yes Beardsmore has been gone a while, hope he comes back soon.
Now on that freebie I got from webwit...
Beardsmore is not coming back any time soon because he's no longer enticed by the idea of being a slave while people spend all day long posting here instead of doing something productive every now and then, like, god forbid, contributing your collective knowledge to the wiki. I can't say I blame him, you gotta have real motivation and good will to do the job of hundreds.

Those aren't exactly his words but you get the idea.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

27 Jun 2015, 19:00

How do you know that may I ask? Did he tell you? You know I had a hunch it was something like that. Me and him once pm'd about exactly that. I could tell he was upset. And yes I also understand.
Last edited by seebart on 27 Jun 2015, 19:03, edited 1 time in total.

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tactica

27 Jun 2015, 19:01

Yes, we had an interesting exchange by email.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

27 Jun 2015, 19:05

Well its official then. Too bad. Now if some of us start working on the wiki, I wonder if that might change his mind.

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tactica

27 Jun 2015, 19:12

It might, but he wants to see real action before considering a come back. Right now there's only 3-4 of us contributing and I don't even know most of the keyboards and switches that people mention around these places.

It's up to you, people.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

27 Jun 2015, 19:19

OK I get the message.

mr_a500

27 Jun 2015, 20:20

tactica wrote:
seebart wrote: Yes Beardsmore has been gone a while, hope he comes back soon.
Now on that freebie I got from webwit...
Beardsmore is not coming back any time soon because he's no longer enticed by the idea of being a slave while people spend all day long posting here instead of doing something productive every now and then, like, god forbid, contributing your collective knowledge to the wiki. I can't say I blame him, you gotta have real motivation and good will to do the job of hundreds.

Those aren't exactly his words but you get the idea.
I've made many attempts to contribute to the wiki, but I've never been able to log in - incompatible username.

Beardsmore doesn't have to be some kind of wiki master. He can give that up. I'd still like to see him around posting occasionally.

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dorkvader

30 Jun 2015, 07:56

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:
mr_a500 wrote: Speak for yourself. I was more alive before the 80's than I am now. :)
There was a poll taken a while back, and as I recall, most people here are in their teens or twenties! Being over 30 makes me pretty old by Deskthority standards.
mr_a500 wrote: ALPS were in Radio Shack computers, so that would have made them pretty popular. Commodore used Mitsumi on the PETs. Clare Pendar was probably more popular than Cherry at that time.
Citation needed for all three.
Clare might have been popular. When TI stopped using microswitch Kbs on their silent 700 units they switched to clare for a short period (see pyrelink's post on DT) though they also used hitek for most other things (911 terminal, and just about everything else post-microswitch)

They were a long holdout for microswitch, with both the dual magnet and sealed types of switches appearing. Unlike some manufacturers (nokia, wang, etc) they used a KB from microswitch, (kb, pcb, plate, controller) instead of just the raw switches with a KB of their own design. This can be seen with microswitch branding on the TI KB, and not on the others (nokia, wang, etc.)

Early keytronic could be reed switches, I don't know when they introduced the popular foam / foil, as I only have an example from '85.

I think the sol-20 (1975) shipped with foam / foil keytronic http://www.sol20.org/keyboard.html

It's easy to see the might of microswitch on the late '70's as they prepared keyboards for all (or almost all) of burroughs terminals, all of TI's silent 700 units (which were very popular), lots of oddball machines, as well as units to be used in kit computers like the apple 1 (looking through apple 1 photos shows microswitch kbs on a few. at least one person has adapted a KB from a silent 700 to an apple 1).

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

30 Jun 2015, 08:14

Thanks for your insight dorkvader, good stuff.

mr_a500

30 Jun 2015, 13:34

dorkvader wrote: Clare might have been popular. When TI stopped using microswitch Kbs on their silent 700 units they switched to clare for a short period (see pyrelink's post on DT) though they also used hitek for most other things (911 terminal, and just about everything else post-microswitch)
Yes, I've seen the Hi-Tek Silent 700 - hell of a disappointment if somebody was expecting Micro Switch:
Hi-Tek TI Silent 700 front.JPG
Hi-Tek TI Silent 700.JPG
dorkvader wrote: Early keytronic could be reed switches, I don't know when they introduced the popular foam / foil, as I only have an example from '85.
Key Tronic reed switch keyboards were mentioned quite a lot in BYTE magazine up to 1978. I think Key Tronic discontinued the reed switch shortly after.
dorkvader wrote: I think the sol-20 (1975) shipped with foam / foil keytronic http://www.sol20.org/keyboard.html
I thought the Sol-20 was 1977, but I discovered it was introduced in June 1976 (kit version). That's also earlier than I thought for Key Tronic foam & foil - assuming they were using it in 1976 and didn't just switch in later years.

I always thought that Key Tronic abandoned the more expensive reed switch immediately after making the foam & foil, but if foam & foil was around in 1976, then the theory is a little off.

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tactica

07 Jul 2015, 01:15

mr_a500 wrote: I've made many attempts to contribute to the wiki, but I've never been able to log in - incompatible username.
Now that's a cheap excuse if I ever saw one :P

Ask Webwit or 002 or some other admin what could be wrong, then. It would be a shame not to contribute valuable knowledge to the wiki because of a silly technical problem.
Beardsmore doesn't have to be some kind of wiki master. He can give that up. I'd still like to see him around posting occasionally.
Well yes, I'm sure you and others would rather see him chatting, joking and posting nifty pictures just like every other Joe on the average message board today, and this one, sadly, seems to be no exception. That's precisely why it is a miracle that the wiki managed to reach this far. I don't think you (and here I mean the vast majority of people posting on DT) really appreciate what he and a few others have achieved -- a wealth of excellent reference information put together for everyone on the planet to use and learn more about what makes us "tick" at the sight of a serious quality board. What you have on this little wiki here easily rivals and in several respects beats what you get from the whole Wikipedia operation today as far as mechanical keyboards is concerned, yet you people seem to expect this to merrily work forever as a one-man show. From the little time I've been here, talking to Daniel by PM and using the wiki every other day, I can tell that he's passionate and knows a tremendous deal about keyboard technology, but in the end there's only so much he -or anyone- can do alone. At some point, you will give up and call it quits.

As I told him in private, a prime example of this nonsense is the fact that it took me to join DT for the Space-cadet entry to have at least a minimal info box covering the very basics and not look so rushed. For a global community that spends so much money and quality time on all kinds of keyboard gadgetry, it's disheartening to see how little you care about your knowledge being passed on to others and used for the greater good. I'm not really in a position to judge, being still a newcomer and such, but again If a board described as the holy grail of mechanical keyboards requires a 1 month old DT user to have its wiki entry span more than a one liner, this community does indeed have a serious problem, and it is no wonder that Daniel feels frustrated, to put it mildly. Dunno, but if you can spend a couple hours here every day, surely you can afford to spend if only 30 minutes contributing something to the wiki every now and then? It's hardly asking too much.

To this date, the Space Cadet is a still a one-line entry. True, it is unlikely that many here are in a position to add first hand information about that one, but there's tons of other boards that are known well enough and owned by many, yet they are lacking proper documentation collected in a single place so others can find out what's good and not so good about them and decide which board suits them best. As time goes by, boards reach end of cycle and relevant information is withdrawn by manufacturers. The Wayback Machine can find some, but a good deal of it is lost forever -- it's a race against time, and we are losing.

Again, I strongly suggest you people reconsider your ways while there's still (some) time and get involved NOW.

@Mu: There's a visual editor for MediaWiki in the works, currently in beta. You may check it out, but my guess is that Webwit would have to add support for it, or it may come built-in with the next MW update, dunno. Still, I find it strange that you can handle an ancient terminal like I saw you doing in some photos and you can't learn the basic syntax of the wiki in a couple of days if you really want to. It's a child's play, really.

mr_a500

07 Jul 2015, 03:49

tactica wrote: I'm not really in a position to judge
Then don't! Stop lecturing. Some people want to do tons of work on the wiki - good for them. I wanted to just contribute a bit to the wiki - tried at least 8 times over 2 years, never could log in and I just said, "Ah, fuck it then." I don't HAVE to do more. I like to create occasional threads like this and contribute that way. What YOU don't know is that I lost hundreds of posts and photos in the many geekhack crashes and I learned to never put too much effort into a website. In fact, your post has made me reconsider why I even bother posting here at all.
Last edited by mr_a500 on 07 Jul 2015, 12:37, edited 1 time in total.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

07 Jul 2015, 10:49

This is a "loaded gun" of a subject. As tactica knows I have recently changed my attitude but I will not lecutre anyone on this, least of all mr_a500 who I considder my senior in terms of vintage keyboard collections. Yes mr_a500 does contribute in posts like this one. Of course if you permitted someone else could add you're data to the wiki, not sure how productive that would be though. You cannot force anyone to spend time working on the wiki tactica, you can expect people to do so but that's relative. Apparently Beardsmore had enough and left because of exactly that. Most people here don't own intreresting enough keyboards worthwhile adding anyhow. Of course that's not the only way to contribute.

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Muirium
µ

08 Jul 2015, 19:41

tactica wrote: Still, I find it strange that you can handle an ancient terminal like I saw you doing in some photos and you can't learn the basic syntax of the wiki in a couple of days if you really want to. It's a child's play, really.
You mean this?
My post. But not my terminal. I'm paralysed whenever I meet a commandline. You should see the ridiculous amount of handholding I need whenever computers destroy my world by losing their transparency, and making demands. I still think I'm the shit because I figured out how to use
, [img] and [url] tags in bbcode.

But really, as much or more of an issue is the neutral point of view (or whatever the official phrase is) that wikis require. I've never been able to separate my personal voice from my writing. They're completely fused in my brain. You could tell if I started making wiki entries. They'd be full of in-jokes, and I honestly wouldn't even notice!

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

08 Jul 2015, 20:01

One does not even have to learn the basic syntax of the wiki to make entries. It's so basic one can get away with copy and paste. Sure, more complex entries require more insight. I "learned" HTML years ago, that seemed difficult. But of course we used an editor so it was all a joke. I bet a lot of people here could manage entries in the wiki just fine.

davkol

10 Jul 2015, 01:59

I absolutely despise MediaWiki syntax. It's the worst thing invented in the timespan between glam metal and Twilight.

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Muirium
µ

10 Jul 2015, 02:06

It is pretty much the opposite to what I want, aye. Markdown, on the other hand, I love that stuff.

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tactica

10 Jul 2015, 02:53

seebart wrote: One does not even have to learn the basic syntax of the wiki to make entries. It's so basic one can get away with copy and paste. Sure, more complex entries require more insight. I "learned" HTML years ago, that seemed difficult. But of course we used an editor so it was all a joke. I bet a lot of people here could manage entries in the wiki just fine.
I'm afraid it's more a problem of attitude than the syntax being inherently difficult to grasp.

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Muirium
µ

10 Jul 2015, 10:28

That's the spirit. There is no problem. It's the users fault. They can learn to endure the system. Now go make more content!

It's not working out so good, is it?

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