Silicon Graphics 32 Key Programmable

User avatar

17 Oct 2017, 17:41

01 - Graphic.jpg
01 - Graphic.jpg (195.05 KiB) Viewed 3103 times

It may be perplexing to those born after 1996, but Silicon Graphics was once considered among Microsoft and IBM as one of the most important names in the computing world. Their 3D Graphical Workstations were the top of the line Ferraris of rendering, and despite not being sold to the general public, the mere mention of their name was enough to stir the imaginations of gamers and movie-goers everywhere. From the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, to the Nintendo 64, in the 90s, Silicon Graphics was king.
02 - Hero Shot.jpg
02 - Hero Shot.jpg (309.23 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
Now all that's left of their former glory is a shadowy reflection called "SGI" bought up for its patents, and a few hardware relics like this, the Silicon Graphics 32 Key Programmable Button Box, 9980991. Made custom for Silicon Graphics by Advanced Input Devices for their Unix workstations these button boxes came with a set of dials which would aid in changing viewpoints and adjusting settings in 3D rendering applications.
03 - Switch.jpg
03 - Switch.jpg (177.33 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
This particular model (there are both earlier and later examples) comes equipped with Cherry Black switches with integrated LEDs. The actuation force is too hard, i don't care for them so much, but they feel brand new.
04 - Reverse.jpg
04 - Reverse.jpg (133.34 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
This model also lacks the ac adapter jack seen on other models, I believe because the jack was on the Dial box on this iteration, It has a male and female RS232 Serial port on the back, for connecting to the Irix Workstation and the Dial Box respectively.
05 -Label.jpg
05 -Label.jpg (220.8 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
It is in good condition except for this label scratch on the back. The construction of the box is fairly straight forward.
06 - Open.jpg
06 - Open.jpg (234.02 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
Removing 4 screws, two easily visible, two hidden under the flip up feet, the shell can be separated. It is made of rather thick plastic. A dark brown steel switch plate keeps the cherry switches from misbehaving.
07 - Bare Bones.jpg
07 - Bare Bones.jpg (191.22 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
Two more screws allow you to see a small daughter board which has the serial ports attached to it, and the only connection between it and the main board is this 8 pin direct socket, no ribbon cables or plugs.
08 - Connector.jpg
08 - Connector.jpg (260.56 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
The main board is a very attractive Forest Green.
09 - Board Reverse.jpg
09 - Board Reverse.jpg (344.43 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
The board manufacture date is revealed here to be 1987, older than I expected.
10 - Details.jpg
10 - Details.jpg (179.63 KiB) Viewed 3103 times
My plan is get this sucker going again to use as macro keys for Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects. Suggestions on how best to make this happen would be most welcome as I have not made a custom keyboard before. Pretty excited to have a companion for my backlit Silicon Graphics Bigfoot though!

workshop-f7/backlighting-a-silicon-grap ... 16303.html
Last edited by flowerlandfilms on 24 Oct 2017, 07:52, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

17 Oct 2017, 19:28

It reminds me of the IBM LPFK 6094-020 made by Alps. My memories of what I've seen in this exact layout with all illuminated keys escapes me, though — I know there was one with MX switches but I forget who made it and for whom.

User avatar

17 Oct 2017, 20:21

Excellent writeup :D

User avatar

18 Oct 2017, 12:26

I found the IBM device on this japanese site, from other research i've done it seems to come with the exact same dial box as the SG machine, but confusingly says it was made by IBM themselves. Is one of them a ripoff?

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

18 Oct 2017, 22:42

rzwv's site was down again at the time I was looking for it. That one is made by Alps.

User avatar

12 Nov 2017, 12:48

Looks like my SG AT-101 has a new friend...
KEYTEASE.jpg (786.25 KiB) Viewed 2909 times

User avatar

12 Nov 2017, 17:27

flowerlandfilms wrote: Looks like my SG AT-101 has a new friend...
Why have you got to tease :(

User avatar

13 Nov 2017, 01:51

Still putting on the final touches today.


13 Sep 2019, 18:15

Hey! any updates on your project?
My lab just found one of these laying around and I'm super interested to see if I can re purpose it.

User avatar

17 Oct 2019, 16:06

I ended up doing this to it, still going strong.


Post Reply

Return to “Gallery”