Pertec Computer Corporation (PCC) XL40 detachable keyboard

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

19 Mar 2016, 21:15

This is the keyboard for the Pertec XL40 microcomputer, this one is from 1978. I had a hard time finding a good picture of the computer online, here is the wikipedia page for more information on the company:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pertec_Computer

Virtual Altair Museum Introduction:

http://www.virtualaltair.com/virtualalt ... pertec.asp

Index of /pdf/pertec:

http://bitsavers.trailing-edge.com/pdf/pertec/
Pertec XL-40[edit]
Pertec XL-40, introduced in 1977, was a more successful successor of Pertec PCC-2100.[4] The XL-40 machine used custom 16-bit processors built from the TI3000 or AMD2900 slices, up to 512 KB operating memory and dedicated master-capable DMA controllers for tape units, floppy and rigid disk units, printers, card reader and terminals.

The maximum configuration came in two different versions. One featured four T1600 / T1800 tape units (manufactured by Pertec), two floppy disk units (manufactured by IBM or Pertec) and four D1400 / D3400 rigid disk units (4.4, 8.8, 17.6 MB formatted capacity, manufactured by Pertec or Kennedy). The other one featured two large capacity disk units (up to 70 MB formatted capacity, manufactured by Kennedy or NEC), one line printer connected through long-line interface (DataProducts LP600, LP1200, B300, Printronix P300, P600), four station printers connected through coaxial cable (Centronics), one card reader (Pertec), four SDLC communication channels and 30 proprietary coax terminals (Model 4141 with 40x12 characters or Model 4143 with 80x25 characters).

The system was mainly used for key-to-disk operations to replace the previously popular IBM card punches and more advanced key-to-tape systems manufactured for example by Mohawk Data Sciences (MDS) or Singer. In addition to the basic key-to-disk function, the proprietary operating system, called XLOS, supported indexed file operations for on-line transaction processing even with data journaling. The system was programmed in two different ways. The data entry was either described in several tables that specified the format of the input record with optional automatic data validation procedures or the indexed file operations were programmed in a special COBOL dialect with IDX and SEQ file support.

System maintenance operations were performed in a protected supervisor mode; the system supported batched operations in the supervisor mode through the use of batch files that specified operator selections. The operating system interacted with the user through a series of prompts with automatic on-screen explanations and default selections, probably the ultimate user-friendliness achievable in text-only human-computer interaction. The XL-40 was also marketed by Triumph-Adler in Europe as TA1540 or Alphatronic P40, the beginning of a relationship that would eventually see a merger of the two companies.
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There is a large empty area on the right hand side where the numpad would be. Apart from QWERTY I do not know what the correct technical term is for this type of layout.
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Pertec used Honeywell Hall Effect switches for this keyboard. These Honeywell Hall Effect switches are marked "4A3B", "4A3A" and "6A1D" for the stabilizers. They feel lighter in keyweight than those on my other Micro Switch keyboards, quite nice.
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As usual the base of the switch housing reads "MICRO USA". Biggest discovery on this one: no Micro Switch sticker anywhere on the keyboard, no Micro Switch marking on the PCB either! This may also have to do with the fact that Pertec ordered keyboards in bigger quantity but of course I do not know that. This busts my theory that all Honeywell Hall Effect keyboards have Micro Switch labels, I guess not.
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This keyboard has a "tweeter". There are two main PCC labels, one on the backplate, one on the inside including a total of eleven different serial numbers on labels, stickers and the case itself. The connector cable is missing.
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The keycaps are Micro Switch typical thick doubleshots except these are not glossy on the top but have a matt structured .Flat top three is used.
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Last edited by seebart on 19 Mar 2016, 22:58, edited 4 times in total.

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

19 Mar 2016, 21:18

Doubleshots:
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Profile shot notice how the third keycap from the left is scooped.
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The top part of the case is quite thick plastic and has a nice structure to it.
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The plate sits at an angle on four thick rubber feet.
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Notice that keycaps "J K L" are scooped, no homing bumps anywhere.
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User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

20 Mar 2016, 14:23

Simply beautiful!

Pertec would have made their own PCB board so that's why you won't see a Micro Switch label on the keyboard mechanism. They must have just bought the key switches from Honeywell.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

20 Mar 2016, 14:51

snuci wrote: Simply beautiful!

Pertec would have made their own PCB board so that's why you won't see a Micro Switch label on the keyboard mechanism. They must have just bought the key switches from Honeywell.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, yeah regarding the label that makes sense. I'm still looking for a good picture of the computer.

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alh84001
v.001

20 Mar 2016, 22:37

I was eyeing this beauty, but I kind of stayed in awe of those Hall effect switches. I wouldn't know what to do with them. Can you compare the ones on this board to something more conventional?

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

20 Mar 2016, 22:50

alh84001 wrote: I was eyeing this beauty, but I kind of stayed in awe of those Hall effect switches. I wouldn't know what to do with them.
That is true there is no practical use for this keyboard except adding it to our wiki and hence finding out a little more about it! This is the expensive and slightly silly part of my hobby.
alh84001 wrote: Can you compare the ones on this board to something more conventional?
You mean compare the feel to another more common switch? Difficult. Linear, long travel by today's standards. Very even and smooth in travel across the board. No tactile bump or any other scratchiness. Very quiet also. There are other people here who also own Honeywell Hall Effects and can probably do a better job at describing them.

Have a look at this:

review-f45/itt-courier-review-honeywell ... 12983.html

Now if you watch Chyros video on Honeywell Hall Effect there is one part that very clearly explaines why these are often described as so "smooth" in feel. Because the mechanism works quite differently from what we are commonly used to in most other keyswitches: the slider does not have to physically move the contact hence no friction.

Engicoder

21 Mar 2016, 02:04

Thanks for sharing, Seebart. It's so clean. Did you receive it in that condition?
Beautiful construction. The brushed metal switch plate looks fantastic.

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

21 Mar 2016, 14:24

Thanks yes I did recieve it in this condition, according to the seller it's dead stock which may well be the case from the looks of it. The keycaps show no wear and there was practically no dirt inside the case on the plate.

wayat91

10 Nov 2016, 16:27

Hi,

I'm from Paris (France) and i was looking for pertec on the web and i found this...
So much memories...when i was young, i've worked on the XL40 from 1981 to 1987 ....tape drive, hard drive, floppy disk
with a 17.6 hard drive very heavy. This great product.

Regards
Philippe

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

10 Nov 2016, 16:31

wayat91 wrote: Hi,

I'm from Paris (France) and i was looking for pertec on the web and i found this...
So much memories...when i was young, i've worked on the XL40 from 1981 to 1987 ....tape drive, hard drive, floppy disk
with a 17.6 hard drive very heavy. This great product.

Regards
Philippe
Hi,

great thanks, we have a wiki page for it also:

wiki/Pertec_XL40_keyboard

Cheers

bimawiz

20 Feb 2017, 03:46

I still have this keyboard, new!
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Slom

20 Feb 2017, 09:50

bimawiz wrote: I still have this keyboard, new!
Interesting! Note that it is the same layout, but the PCB is different.
Yours is the typical micro-switch branded one, but seebarts is completely different.

Also your mods look brownish in colour, and seebarts seem to be black.

Very nice board you have there :)

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

20 Feb 2017, 18:51

Slom wrote:
bimawiz wrote: I still have this keyboard, new!
Interesting! Note that it is the same layout, but the PCB is different.
Yours is the typical micro-switch branded one, but seebarts is completely different.

Also your mods look brownish in colour, and seebarts seem to be black.

Very nice board you have there :)
Yes true, very interesting indeed! Did you send me a email about this recently? I deleted it by mistake sorry. To answer your question I did buy this on ebay. What made it particularly interesting is that mine seems to have not been used and stored very well. In other words it is in almost new condition, the Honeywell Hall Effect switches are most impressive in this newish condition believe me.

Could you please show us more pictures of your nice keyboard? With that exact same layout I assume it must also be for a Pertec computer, possilby a replacement keyboard.

wiki/User:Seebart
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bimawiz

21 Feb 2017, 04:10

The keyboard that belonged to XL40 system, was supplied in Italy (white and brown-colored buttons). It is new and never used. is an old memory, when I was working on Pertec systems. In Germany the colors were different as the language engraved. I remember very well the 4A3B and 4A1B keys, all Peretc keyboards were built with Hall effect buttons!
I'm sorry... I do not have the full keyboard casing, in any case it would never work without his system...sigh!
I would understand if Seebart owns the keyboard or only photos.
Pertec XL40 system was later replaced by Pertec 3200 with new terminals and new keyboards .. and in Italy it still works!
The new photo : is the latest version of the keyboards Pertec become successively Scan Optics (without Hall effect buttons).
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User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

21 Feb 2017, 09:22

When you say "working on Pertec systems", do you mean you used Pertec computers or you actually worked at the company? If you did work at the company I have some more questions for you!

I own the keyboard you see in this thread, I have the ebay data if you don't believe me, no other picturtes like mine exist online from what I found when posting this.

There is a little Pertec data at bitsavers:

http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttga ... df/pertec/

bimawiz

22 Feb 2017, 11:45

I Worked on data entry Pertec systems in Italy, from 1980 (XL40 as a technician and programmer) to 2000 (Pertec 3200).
As I said, there is still a Pertec 3200 that work, here in Vicenza, perhaps unique in the world!
I would be happy if I could answer your questions.
Congratulations, you have a nice keyboard, you were also technical?

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

22 Feb 2017, 14:08

bimawiz wrote: I Worked on data entry Pertec systems in Italy, from 1980 (XL40 as a technician and programmer) to 2000 (Pertec 3200).
As I said, there is still a Pertec 3200 that work, here in Vicenza, perhaps unique in the world!
I would be happy if I could answer your questions.
Congratulations, you have a nice keyboard, you were also technical?
Very interesting bimawiz! No, I did not work at Pertec if that's what you mean. You may have noticed we have our own wiki, I could set up a Pertec page if you are willing to write up a little information about your experiences at Pertec Italy. Or you could just add whatever you can come up with to this existing page:

wiki/Pertec_XL40_keyboard

This is also why I would really like to have more pictures of your keyboard, to add to that page!

bimawiz

23 Feb 2017, 19:02

very interesting, you can add pictures of my keyboard, if I find something else is fine if I public here? then to write it down where you want

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pixelheresy

23 Feb 2017, 19:20

Said it before, but have to say it again...

Image

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

05 Mar 2017, 22:16

Thanks to bimawiz I can post some original images from Pertec, it is quite rare for someone that actually worked at the company in question to stumble upon DT, as far as we know we've only had this once before with D'Milo Hallerberg.
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bimawiz

02 Dec 2020, 16:23

in an old Italian film there is a scene where you see the young ladies working with XL40

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