Sun Type 5

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Template icon--Illustration.png This article requires additional photographic illustration — need photos of the switches — what is a "standard" Fujitsu rubber dome? — and the rear case to demonstrate that "Type 5"/"Type 5c" are real Sun model numbers
Sun Type 5
Sun Type 5 UK.jpg
Branding Sun Microsystems
Manufacturer Fujitsu
Keyswitches Rubber dome
Interface Sun proprietary
Weight 1.75 kg
Years of production 1991—1997

The Sun Type 5 is a keyboard that was made for Sun SparcStation line. It is the successor of the Sun Type 4 and the predecessor of Sun Type 6. Earlier production units had only the Sun brand logo.


The keyboard internals are standard Fujitsu rubber dome with a curved backplane.

The exterior is in Sun's colour scheme of light grey and purple. The keycaps are of higher quality than typical Fujitsu keyboards: sharp-edged, dished and with dark blue letters. Caps Lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock and Compose each has a small window for a LED. All keys do not have the same hue: modifiers are in the same light grey tone as the case while the alphanumeric keys are white. The LED keycaps have a larger slider, they can not be swapped with other keycaps (i.e. it is not possible to swap Ctrl and Caps Lock).

The type 5 uses one large bar to tilt the keyboard, a small cover hidden under the closed bar gives access to the eight DIP switches on the PCB that select the keyboard layout. To open the keyboard, remove the five screws, pry a guitar pick between the upper and lower half where additional latches keep the keyboard closed: at the front left, front right and in the middle of both sides of the keyboard. There are five hinges at the top of the keyboard, so gently lift up the front.

The type 5c has two feet, a small cover for the five DIP switches that select the layout and no screws. To open the keyboard, depress the five visible latches at the front, then proceed using guitar picks as for the type 5.

The inner steel plate is screwed to the barrel plate. The type 5 uses an 8051 microcontroller on a PCB that spans the entire length of the keyboard where the type 5c uses a 68HC05 on a smaller PCB.


There are a few variants, with either:

Sun Type 5, U.S.A./UNIX layout, detachable cable

  • More IBM-like layout, including ISO layouts.
Sun Type 5c, Swedish IBM-like layout

A Tenkeyless variant was also made: the "Compact 1"[1]. The key in the left, right and top sections are smaller than normal. The media and power keys that the Type 5 has above the numeric keypad have been squeezed together with the function keys.

To the left side, there is a cluster of named function keys:

Stop Again
Props Undo
Front Copy
Open Paste
Find Cut

The space bar row takes one of these forms:

Control Alt Meta Meta Com­pose Alt Graph
Caps Lock Alt Meta Meta Com­pose Alt Graph

Cable and protocol[edit]

The protocol is Sun's proprietary, specified in the SPARC International Keyboards Specification 1. The signalling is based on RS-232 at 1200 baud using inverted 5V TTL levels (low at idle).

The first version had a connector for a detachable cable on the left and right sides, where the other port could be used for a Sun mouse. Sun Type 5c has a fixed cable and a dedicated Sun mouse port in the middle of the underside with cable channels for both cables going to the left and right.

Use with modern computers[edit]

  • Because the signalling is based on RS-232, a typical serial port can be used coupled with the right cable and drivers.
  • Sun-to-USB converter for sale on VPI[2]
  • Sun-to-USB converter schematics and firmware by Brad Minch.[3]
  • Sun-to-PS/2 converter schematics and firmware by Ove Risberg available on the net.[4]
  • xelalexv's suniversal firmware for the Arduino Pro Micro. [5]

Hobbyist attempts have been made to reprogram a RS-232 to USB converter into a keyboard converter. Another Swedish enthusiast has made a new controller that speaks PS/2[Citation needed]. Protocol converters have also been spotted for sale in a shop in the Akihibara district in Tokyo, Japan.




  1. Computer History Museum — SPARCstation Keyboard. Retrieved 2018-09-12
  2. VPI — Commercial USB to SUN Adapter Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  3. — Sun keyboard to USB converter, by Brad Minch and Marijn Kentie Dated 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  4. The Buzzard Homepage — Sun Type 5 Keyboard on the PC, by Ove Risberg Dated 2003-09-04. Retrieved 2015-07-06.