Vintage ALPS-mount spherical keyboards?


25 Apr 2016, 19:32

Been doing some looking around to see what older keyboards/computers used ALPS-mount spherical caps. From what I can tell in some limited research, most of the ALPS keyboards post-SKCC used cylindrical keycaps. Some SKFL keyboards seem to have used standard ALPS-mount keycaps provided they used the full-size switches as opposed to the SKFL compact switches. The boards I've found that I think used ALPS-mount spherical caps were made in what seems like a transitioning time for keyboard design include the following:

Toshiba HX-10 (1983)
TRS-80 Model 100 (1983)
ICL One Per Desk (1984)

I haven't been researching keyboards very long, so I'm curious if there are other keyboards or computers that you are aware of that used standard ALPS-mount spherical caps that it seems like a lot of modern enthusiast keysets are emulating. The One Per Desk certainly seems like the inspiration for the more recent SA Retro set with its dark red and bright green modifiers.

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25 Apr 2016, 20:40

There are Canon (AP400/AP500) typewriters with spherical Alps mount keycaps. I think jacobolus or davkol posted one a few days ago.


26 Apr 2016, 08:12

TRS-80 Model 100 (/Olivetti/NEC/Kyocera equivalents), certain Bondwell laptops, etc. are all flat (no sculpting, no step), and only very vaguely spherical, more like flat on top. Caps like this, though obviously not in typewriter stairstep on actual keyboards:

The phoneboard, various old MSX boards like the Toshiba HX-10, certain models of Atari 800XL/etc. are slightly stepped, but still pretty flat on top:

Canon typewriters, certain other Yamaha MSX boards, etc. have more properly "spherical" tops, and more aggressive sculptured profile:

A couple models of C.Itoh keyboards have spherical-ish dyesubs.

To use any of the above on a modern keyboard, you’re going to have to DIY things with a custom layout. None of them are going to match any “standard” keyboard.

If you want spherical caps and Alps-made (linear) switches, you’ll find some much more easily if you go back to the older tee-mount SKCC switches. Lots of those keyboards and typewriters had great thick spherical caps.

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16 Aug 2016, 18:18

A couple models of C.Itoh keyboards have spherical-ish dyesubs.

photos-f62/cie-terminals-vintage-alps-m ... 14438.html


20 Aug 2016, 11:19

I misspoke in my earlier comment. The phoneboard is a different profile than the one pictured there; still pretty flat on top, but with a bit of step between rows. Still not the same as the typewriter caps though.

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