This keyboard itself needs no introduction, it's perhaps among the rarest and most highly sought after Model F variants out there, an Unsaver!
Due to the relatively compact layout (with respect to its larger brother the F122) and terminal keyboard aesthetic, the Unsaver is without a doubt my favorite Model F. Although I have been into mechanical keyboards for many years, I have regrettably ignored buckling spring keyboards until somewhat recently, so like many other I didn't have a chance to get one when people like Cindy and Ellipse were able to find a bunch and then sell them to us at (relatively) sane prices. Nowadays most people who are lucky enough to own one are unwilling to sell them for even the $1k+ they currently go for, instead only willing to get rid of them in trades for even rarer boards like Kishsavers or certain beamspring models. Because I was lucky enough to obtain the latter, I was in turn perhaps even more fortunate to have the pleasure of using an Unsaver as one of my main daily drivers for the past few months:
I should have been more than content with my keyboard situation. But just recently I engaged in perhaps the most ridiculous impulse buy of my life. A seller on r/mechmarket suddenly put a whopping 3 Unsavers for sale. And they were quite unlike the Unsavers we usually see, with gray integrated numpad sublegends in the alpha-numeric row (a bit like on an SSK) and various other keycaps with blue and red dye-sub legends. On top of that, all of these boards were in essentially mint condition. Initially I wasn't exactly sure if they were NIB or factory refurbished but as of right now I am pretty sure it's the latter, which I will explain why in more detail later. Here is a good picture of one of these Unsavers (part number 1386965) posted by the seller:
Anyways, how did I come to be the recipient of one of these boards? As it turns out, this seller actually originally found these 8 months ago and posted the above picture on r/mk. He had little knowledge of Model F's and was unaware of the significance of what he found being a rare (in this case never before seen in the community as far as I am aware of) part number of a very rare and desirable vintage keyboard. It did not take him long to immediately post it on r/mechmarket after commenters in that thread informed him about the APL one that sold on ebay not too long ago. However his post broke several rules and he seemingly disappeared... until just recently.
Only a small number of people on DT were aware of this until it was also posted in the Great and Interesting Finds thread which was when I found out about it. At that point two were already sold in spite of the sky high asking price of $1950+shipping! Like a few others I tried testing my luck by trying to arrange a trade with another valuable board (a beamspring in this case) since I really did not want to burn $2k out of my wallet, but I reacquainted myself with the seller's past antics and became certain that he'd much prefer the money over a trade. And, I told myself that I could sell a beamspring from my collection to make up for the expense. So out of impulse, I frantically backtracked my previous offer immediately and just offered the cash straight up, and secured my board. At over $2k shipped, it's by far the most expensive keyboard purchase I have ever made. With all attributes considered (rare part number, rare keyboard, and mint condition), it's not exactly overpriced in terms of market value, but it is an absurd amount to spend on any keyboard that's not a space cadet. It's a completely irrational decision that I am sure other people will curse me for as it will only reinforce the current market value for this keyboard which is simply out of reach for a lot of people. I should be frantically figuring out which other boards in my collection I should sell to make up for the hole this one burned in my wallet rather than wasting my time typing this write-up, but I'd rather do that than silently disappear into the sunset like most high-value buyers tend to do.
Anyways, after purchasing this keyboard the seller informed me that the box these came in provided very little protection for the board. Since I also wanted the box, this meant that the seller had to package the board in its original box inside another absurdly large box. Even I was shocked by the sheer size of the thing when it arrived to me:
The box to the right is the one that my current monitor (a 43" 4K display) came in to give you an idea of scale. Here is how the unboxing proceeded:
With the keyboard unboxed, the first thing I had to ascertain was its external condition. The first thing I noticed was that the keycaps were extremely rough even compared to my other buckling spring keyboards, so I am certain that it received almost no use. That's not to say all the other Model M's and F's I own have smooth shiny caps, but they are still noticeably less rough compared to these. The front printed red sublegends were also gorgeous to look at up close. Other than that, they are 2-piece keycaps just like other terminal buckling spring keyboards.
This was something that I was a little disappointed about, but it's also a common occurrence in these terminal model F's in particular. This chassis is still in considerably better shape than my other Unsaver.
Full Teardown and ANSI Mod
Although one would argue that I should treat this board as a rare collectible rather than a daily driver given its uniqueness and the price I paid, I couldn't pass up the chance to try out a mint condition buckling spring experience. I also needed an excuse to open it up and examine the condition internally. For these reasons I wasted no time in getting this board ANSI modded. At this point I have taken apart and ANSI modded a few other Model F's (thanks to fohat's excellent guide of course) so I was well prepared this time. It ended up being slightly more difficult than my other Unsaver as for some reason it took me considerably more time to properly mount the keycaps onto the springs, but was a fairly straightforward exercise otherwise.
NIB or Factory Refurbished?
We now return to one of the initial questions that I had when I first acquired this keyboard, which is whether or not it is legitimately NIB or factory refurbished. Although I am not 100% positive, all of the above evidence has lead me to believe that this unit was factory refurbished, most likely by Lexmark. The biggest thing that stands out to me is the DakTech branding on the box, a company which was not established until the 1990's. The model sticker on the back of the keyboard also shows a 1985 manufacture date, over five years earlier. Another peculiar thing you might notice in these pictures is that the part number changes slightly when examining the sticker on the back plate instead of the bottom pan (1386964). I heard it's a common practice for companies to use separate part numbers for replacement units, so it is possible that 1386964 is the original part number while 1386965 is the replacement part number.
Call me a hoarder, but this ended up being a pretty fun and interesting experience, even though the board lived up to its name in terms of what it did to my wallet. Am I lucky, foolish, or both? Who knows? I'll end this post off with a family photo with both my Unsavers:
Thanks for reading! This entire post was typed entirely on this Unsaver which is currently plugged into my PC with a Soarer's converter cable.