1979 Lear Siegler ADM-2 keyboard (Vintage Vintage Key Tronic Foam & Foil)

jacksonh22

30 Dec 2020, 00:52

A quick backstory about this keyboard - Every since I first got into mechanical keyboards, more specifically vintage boards, I had gone on a massive scavenger hunt to find all the old boards I like to make a sort of "wish list." The Lear Siegler ADM-2 terminal and keyboard was at the top of this "wish list" for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately the only recent photo I could find of the keyboard was one on a museum's page. I figured finding another one for sale would be super difficult.

Here's the museum's photo:
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Most of the keyboards at the top of this wish list I had created were actually Key Tronic boards. Although their foam and foil switches seem to get a lot of hate, I've actually really enjoyed my typing experiences on them and don't mind the foam feel at all. In fact, I can barely feel it. Their foam and foil switches are also very light weighted which I find very hard to come across in boards of this age. My KT mag reed keyboard has just this problem - looks great, very stiff switches. I also haven't found any other manufacturer where I love their keycaps as much as KT. I especially like their uniprofile keycaps. This Lear Siegler keyboard fit all of my criteria: it had a great color scheme, lots of keys, uniprofile, foam and foil, well built and had keys that light up (I really like when boards of this era had some transparent caps with LEDs underneath.)

About two months ago a similar looking board popped up on Ebay with a ridiculous asking price. Over the course of the last several weeks I was able to get the seller to drop the price by a ton towards a price that I was willing to pay for a board I considered holy grail. And, well, I made the purchase! It arrived here yesterday.

Keyboard pics:
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As you can see the board looks quite a bit different than it should. The blue paint on the case is completely gone and the keys have yellowed quite a bit. I'm also just presuming this is the board for the Lear Siegler ADM-2, as there's nothing written on the case or pcb that would indicate it was.

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The switches are where things get interesting. We've all seen Key Tronic's "vintage" foam and foil switches. But inside this board houses what I like to call "vintage vintage" switches. They're basically a mix of KT's magnetic reed switches with the foam and foil concept. They work the exact same way as the foam and foil switches used later on except they use a long stem and are housed in blocks. Since I don't have another foam and foil board on hand right now I can't say with certainty that they feel different but I can say they feel very nice and have a very satisfying clack. The case has warped over time and grinds up against the keys on the left side, so I'll need to do some maintenance to fix this.

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The switches are a bit annoying to work with. There's probably 50 screws on the back of the pcb that need to be removed to access the switches and when reassembling the board you need to make sure all the stems are facing the right direction (I didn't the first time - ugh) You can see one set of the switches has stems with a line in the middle. I presume these were more modern replacement switches. With these ones you can actually see that they're facing the right way from far away.

If you'd like to see any more pictures of the board, and full quality, go here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/143697181@N08/B838i8

And if you'd like to help me with the process of converting the board, go here:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=25068

Thanks for reading!

mr_a500

30 Dec 2020, 12:07

Nice. I've never seen an ADM-2 before - mostly just ADM-3, ADM-5 and ADM 42. I regret not getting a blue ADM-3 for $40 when I picked up a load of computers, but I ran out of space in my car. (damn it!)

I too like light weighted foam & foil, but noticed that when I replaced the disintegrated foam pads, the feel became much worse. (but it's possible that the foam was too thick). I assume you're going to have to replace the pads.

I hope you're going to restore the blue paint.

Jan Pospisil

30 Dec 2020, 17:57

Looks like a beast! Glad you got to buy it. :)

jacksonh22

30 Dec 2020, 22:02

mr_a500 wrote:
30 Dec 2020, 12:07
Nice. I've never seen an ADM-2 before - mostly just ADM-3, ADM-5 and ADM 42. I regret not getting a blue ADM-3 for $40 when I picked up a load of computers, but I ran out of space in my car. (damn it!)

I too like light weighted foam & foil, but noticed that when I replaced the disintegrated foam pads, the feel became much worse. (but it's possible that the foam was too thick). I assume you're going to have to replace the pads.

I hope you're going to restore the blue paint.
I'm definitely going to restore the blue paint! The rest of the case needs to be painted/retrobrighted too. The foil is pretty degraded in some parts but there's other sections where it's perfect and those sections feel fine, you barely notice the foam feel.

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