HP HIL keyboard 98203C

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09 Aug 2017, 06:34

This is my first HP HIL device and I have never had keyboard that requires 12V power supply until this.



HIL device have SDL receptacle as its interface, to be exact, 4-contact SDL. It is physically diffrent size from 6-contact one IBM had used. Unfortunately SDL cable didn't come with my keyboard.


HP-HIL Technical Reference Manual:
http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttga ... _Jan86.pdf

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Offtopicthority Instigator

09 Aug 2017, 07:04

Wow that shape of that case is awesome! Congrats on your rare find, I've never seen this one before.
Last edited by seebart on 09 Aug 2017, 16:06, edited 1 time in total.

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[ XMIT ]

09 Aug 2017, 09:56

Nice! I found two of these in elecplus's warehouse that I sold on he behalf to a collector in Colorado. Looking forward to a teardown!


09 Aug 2017, 12:52

Click on the first link, you will find the basic teardown.

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Yet another IBM snob

09 Aug 2017, 17:37

Well, this is pretty!

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10 Aug 2017, 02:44

I don't think I've ever seen a 4×5 numpad without any double (or triple) keys. I like it!

(although I would make a few changes in the layout)


10 Aug 2017, 10:44

Oh, it looks like the keyboard for this HP 9816.

The HP 9826A and HP 9836 computer had a built-in keyboard in almost exactly that layout, except for the left Shift key not being stepped. According to the links there, there were later models of both computers with a detachable keyboard that were supposedly only sold in Europe.

I have had a HP 9826A that was missing keys and the tops of switches on some of those. It had instead Cherry M10 or M11 switches (they look the same, so I don't know..) which were really fragile and a few broke when I pulled keys.
The HP Museum page for the HP 9816 mentions that the detachable keyboards were less fragile and did not loose keys as easily. I suppose that is because of the different choice of switches.
Instead of a PCB with a controller and internal HIL, the (rainbow-coded) ribbon cable was connected directly to the motherboard.
And the computer was also encased in really thick plastic throughout, plus metal inside.

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Daniel Beardsmore

01 Sep 2017, 09:44

Curious. You can amend a mould by adding raised-up areas. These switches have "MAXI" branding on the top, inside a recessed area, which seems to indicate that fresh tooling was created (otherwise you'd have to make the rest of the shell slightly taller). Also, this is a ca. 1987 keyboard, which is well past the end of the known timespan for these switches.

This returns to the question of how long moulds last. There are many examples of mould changes that suggest fresh moulds were created, but there is never a clear reason why it would happen, especially as moulds are expensive to make.


01 Sep 2017, 18:15

I love these semi-height keys ever since I first encountered them on the first computer I learned to program on, the HP9830A introduced in '71:


Sadly the colors are gone.

Anyone wants to revive the keyshapes?

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29 May 2020, 01:48

HuBandiT wrote:
01 Sep 2017, 18:15
Anyone wants to revive the keyshapes?
Not sure if you meant it or not but I'd love to try. I've been trying learn Fusion 360 and this looks like a good challenge for it. Let me know if you want to do it.

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