KB-101A/TK

User avatar
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

04 Nov 2018, 22:25

Tektronix KB-101A/TK

In my time with this hobby I’d consider myself pretty damn lucky overall. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of this hobby for me is countless messages between sellers across multiple auction sites, lots of researching serial & part numbers, bugging tons of people on GH/reddit/DT for things I’ve been looking for, forming awesome friendships with people on those sites that know I’m looking for stuff and let me know when they find it; so I have definitely put in the time to find a lot of what I have. However, some of the really nice things I have I just have to toss up to dumb luck. Things like both of the Ti boards that I’ve found ( photos-videos-f64/gainsborough-s-wild-t ... 19112.html ), a Packard Bell keyboard with SKCL browns, a few obscure alps boards with various switch types, and then this board:

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And although I didn’t trade a keyboard I found at the recycling center that I picked up for pocket change for my NIB KB-101A (lookin’ at you, Chyros) I definitely feel like I lucked out price-wise as well.

The Story---------------------------

I was finishing my normal destruction of souls on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U late one night when I decided to check eBay real quick before going to bed. I have a basic “vintage keyboard” search favorited so all I’m always just one click away from seeing the most current listings for that category – it makes checking eBay very quick! Upon clicking it, at the top of the list was a “Key Tronic KB101” listing – but I had never seen this exact board before. I’ve had a Key Tronic KB101 before, but it was foam and foil that looked quite different than the one in the listing; in fact, the one in the listing kinda looked like an acer kb-101A. I started getting really excited and clicked on the listing to look through the pictures and my mind was made up: this was a rebranded acer kb-101A.

I remember the only person awake on telegram that night was subcat (b/c Australia time) and I showed him out of excitement what I bought, but then we both started to wonder if maybe it was a foam and foil board in a KB-101A chassis – after all, neither of us had ever seen this color/brand on an acer board before. I messaged the seller and asked if the board clicked when he/she pressed keys down, but the reply I got was “through the plastic bag it’s hard to tell.” I debated on whether to cancel the order or not but in the end, obviously, decided to roll the dice.

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I definitely made the right call.


The Board---------------------------

The caps it originally came with are the same caps as the KB-101A in Chyros’ famous video, which I LOVE the font for (particularly for 7), but not the caps themselves. Pad printed thin ABS >_< so the first thing I wanted to do was get a good set of caps on the board, plus I wanted to take some awesome pics of the board without it’s caps! Before that, though, I got some pics of the ‘tek’ board together with my acer branded kb-101AS.
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Then I decided to replace the caps. But then things started to get a little strange…

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They weren’t SKCM blue… they were SKCM urine!

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Jokes aside, I have never seen a blue alps board with this level of color discrepancy on its sliders. I actually wonder if it has something to do with the caps. I took a profile pic of one of the sliders so you can see that it’s really the top part of the slider that’s discolored.

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It’s very strange indeed, especially considering that I had to break the plastic bag seal that the board came in, so I know for sure it had never been used before nor exposed to any UV rays. I honestly can’t explain it, and if anyone has any insight I would love to hear it – my leading theory right now is that heat somehow discolored them.

Aside from slider color, though, the board feels just like my NIB nisemono model M – so the switches, while oddly discolored, are definitely NOS.
I tried a myriad of cap possibilities, but I didn’t take pics of any of them until I reached something I liked. I ended up with a PBT wang 725 set together with most of the native thin-ABS alpha-block mods that originally came on the board. I quite like how it turned out! I think the wang 725 caps – particularly the F row – look really good with the grey chassis.

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This board is definitely a favorite of mine and I’ve had fun writing this review on it! In fact, I like this board so much, I recently sold my kb-101AS to a reddit user that I know will take good care of it. Even though that AS was my very first blue alps board ( photos-f62/f-ing-blue-alps-man-acer-kb- ... 16151.html ) I couldn’t justify keeping it around in the wake of acquiring this NIB one. It will definitely be missed and I am forever greatful for that first acer. Its memory will be lived on in the “leaf80” custom I bought using the money from the acer sale.

With that said, in the famous words of Chyros: “Thanks for [reading], I hope you enjoyed it, and following is a typing demonstration of me typing on this keyboard.”
またね。
//gains.
Last edited by //gainsborough on 05 Nov 2018, 06:19, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Bass

04 Nov 2018, 22:40

Really awesome find. I love the grey color scheme of the chassis in particular, it gives it sort of a nice industrial look. And to be NOS on top of that in light of recent price craziness for NOS blues.

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JP!

04 Nov 2018, 22:59

I swear the Alps boards find you ;)

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Chyros

05 Nov 2018, 00:00

Fuck me, that's just amazing :D . Fantastic find mate, happy you're enjoying it ^^ . Congrats, and nice write-up too!
Last edited by Chyros on 05 Nov 2018, 00:01, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

05 Nov 2018, 00:01

You lucky dog.
Attachments
Alps-blue-color-variation.jpg
Alps-blue-color-variation.jpg (342.49 KiB) Viewed 1050 times

User avatar
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

05 Nov 2018, 01:29

Bass wrote: Really awesome find. I love the grey color scheme of the chassis in particular, it gives it sort of a nice industrial look. And to be NOS on top of that in light of recent price craziness for NOS blues.
Yeah I couldn't be happier, honestly. The weird discoloration bothers me a little bit, but the keyfeel is outstanding!

JP! wrote: I swear the Alps boards find you ;)
lol! Still waiting for a striped amber board to find me =P
Chyros wrote: Fuck me, that's just amazing :D . Fantastic find mate, happy you're enjoying it ^^ . Congrats, and nice write-up too!
Thanks, man. That means a lot to me!
fohat wrote: You lucky dog.
Haha, can't argue with you there. That pic you shared looks more like the typical color discrepancy I'm used to seeing on blue alps, but by comparison mine almost look green. I really am curious how mine turned out the way that they did.

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Hypersphere

05 Nov 2018, 01:36

@//gainsborough: Very nice indeed!

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JP!

05 Nov 2018, 01:46

Striped amber. . .I didn't know that was a thing until now.

User avatar
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

05 Nov 2018, 06:16

JP! wrote: Striped amber. . .I didn't know that was a thing until now.
Yeah man - they are crazy rare. Maybe not as rare as the weird brown alps you found, though. I only know of a few people that have striped ambers.
Hypersphere wrote: @//gainsborough: Very nice indeed!
Thanks!

mcmaxmcmc

06 Nov 2018, 02:48

Man, that brings the dye of the plastic into question now. How did they degrade like that? I mean, quality control exists, so I doubt that board left the factory with the switches like that, but what could have happened to it?

I almost thought you found another SKCM Green board, lmao.

Nice find overall!

Polecat

06 Nov 2018, 04:14

Wow, congrats on yet another incredible Alps find. It's always neat to see another KB-101 version, and this one is a real surprise. Tektronix didn't build computers; they supplied test equipment for the tech industry. Some of it was generic (oscilloscopes...), and some was specialized, which probably included whatever device this keyboard was originally supplied with. Whatever it was, I'll bet that only a handful were sold, and that makes this a *very* rare beast!
//gainsborough wrote: Tektronix KB-101A/TK

In my time with this hobby I’d consider myself pretty damn lucky overall. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of this hobby for me is countless messages between sellers across multiple auction sites, lots of researching serial & part numbers, bugging tons of people on GH/reddit/DT for things I’ve been looking for, forming awesome friendships with people on those sites that know I’m looking for stuff and let me know when they find it; so I have definitely put in the time to find a lot of what I have. However, some of the really nice things I have I just have to toss up to dumb luck. Things like both of the Ti boards that I’ve found ( photos-videos-f64/gainsborough-s-wild-t ... 19112.html ), a Packard Bell keyboard with SKCL browns, a few obscure alps boards with various switch types, and then this board:


またね。
//gains.

Engicoder

06 Nov 2018, 05:55

Polecat wrote: Tektronix didn't build computers; they supplied test equipment for the tech industry. Some of it was generic (oscilloscopes...), and some was specialized, which probably included whatever device this keyboard was originally supplied with. Whatever it was, I'll bet that only a handful were sold, and that makes this a *very* rare beast!
This is not entirely true. Tektronix built a long line of computer terminal including the 4000 series in the 70's and 80's and the XP series in the 90's. The terminal business grew out of their expertise in CRTs. In the case of this keyboard, I think you are correct, i.e it came from a system for which Tektronix built a specialized PC add on and did a little badge engineering on the PC side (although the monitor is probably theirs). Below is a picture of the system I believe this keyboard came from. As the manual gains posted, its the Tektronix PEP-301 and is a 80386.
tek-pep-301.jpg
tek-pep-301.jpg (200.63 KiB) Viewed 911 times
tek-dcs-01.png
tek-dcs-01.png (1.31 MiB) Viewed 911 times
Note: Information from Tektronix 1988 product catalog

Polecat

06 Nov 2018, 06:29

Looks like that setup was used to grab frame shots from the 'scope, with the frame grabber and the scope controlled by the same computer. Thanks for digging that up. Brings back memories. I was playing with frame grabber boards around that time, but nothing on the order of the Tek system, that would have been way beyond my budget!
Engicoder wrote:
Polecat wrote: Tektronix didn't build computers; they supplied test equipment for the tech industry. Some of it was generic (oscilloscopes...), and some was specialized, which probably included whatever device this keyboard was originally supplied with. Whatever it was, I'll bet that only a handful were sold, and that makes this a *very* rare beast!
This is not entirely true. Tektronix built a long line of computer terminal including the 4000 series in the 70's and 80's and the XP series in the 90's. The terminal business grew out of their expertise in CRTs. In the case of this keyboard, I think you are correct, i.e it came from a system for which Tektronix built a specialized PC add on and did a little badge engineering on the PC side (although the monitor is probably theirs). Below is a picture of the system I believe this keyboard came from. As the manual gains posted, its the Tektronix PEP-301 and is a 80386.
tek-pep-301.jpg
tek-dcs-01.png
Note: Information from Tektronix 1988 product catalog

User avatar
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

06 Nov 2018, 09:03

Woah, those pictures are old! That's pretty neat, though. Thanks for the info @polecat @engicoder! I had always wanted a multitech branded acer board, but the tek board is pretty neat with its chassis color. There is a texas instruments version of this board too that I've always kept an eye out for as well which I think came with white alps.
mcmaxmcmc wrote: Man, that brings the dye of the plastic into question now. How did they degrade like that? I mean, quality control exists, so I doubt that board left the factory with the switches like that, but what could have happened to it?

I almost thought you found another SKCM Green board, lmao.

Nice find overall!
Haha - no SKCM greens, unfortunately. The strange thing is that the discoloration is only where the keycaps would mount, so I'm wondering if there was some reaction between the plastic of the slider and the plastic of the keycaps maybe? Heat might have been the catalyst or something.

Engicoder

06 Nov 2018, 17:06

//gainsborough wrote: Woah, those pictures are old! That's pretty neat, though.
Our definitions of old differ :lol: I bought my first computer before those photos were taken.

idlethock

11 Nov 2018, 01:28

Always envious and happy for your posts of this nature. Congrats on the find! :D

Polecat

11 Nov 2018, 04:36

Old is a relative term I suppose. I was probably on my fourth computer (a generic 286 built from surplus parts) when Tektronix was selling that system. Hard to believe we got anything done before the internet.
Engicoder wrote:
//gainsborough wrote: Woah, those pictures are old! That's pretty neat, though.
Our definitions of old differ :lol: I bought my first computer before those photos were taken.

User avatar
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

12 Nov 2018, 08:16

idlethock wrote: Always envious and happy for your posts of this nature. Congrats on the find! :D
Thanks, dude!! Much appreciated!
Polecat wrote: Old is a relative term I suppose. I was probably on my fourth computer (a generic 286 built from surplus parts) when Tektronix was selling that system. Hard to believe we got anything done before the internet.
Engicoder wrote:
//gainsborough wrote: Woah, those pictures are old! That's pretty neat, though.
Our definitions of old differ :lol: I bought my first computer before those photos were taken.
Yeah it's relative for sure, hahaha. I was 1 year old when those pictures were taken - assuming it was '88.

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