Unicomp

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Unicomp
Industry Computer keyboards
Founded 1996
Founder(s) Neil Muyskens
Headquarters Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Key people Jim Owens
Website http://www.unicomp.com/


Unicomp, an American keyboard manufacturer based in Lexington, Kentucky, is the only remaining producer of buckling spring keyboards similar to those produced by IBM. It was founded in 1996 by employees of Lexmark who purchased Lexmark's keyboard manufacturing division. Unicomp produces keyboards using the same designs and specifications as IBM/Lexmark, and on the same machinery. They are highly regarded amongst keyboard enthusiasts for their customer service.

History

When Lexmark's five-year keyboard production contract for IBM ended in 1996, IBM did not renew it, as increased competition had prompted IBM to begin shipping most of their PCs with cheaper Chicony-made rubber-dome keyboards. As a result, Lexmark decided to sell its keyboard division. Neil Muyskens, an engineer at the facility since it was owned by IBM (prior to its sale to Lexmark), and a number of Muyskens's colleagues, bought the keyboard-making machinery and created their own company, Unicomp. They continued to make keyboards for IBM and vendors of IBM-compatible terminals. Today, Unicomp sells keyboards, replacement parts, and accessories directly to the public.

Products and services

Unicomp manufactures a number of Model M variants based on the 101-key 42H1292, and on the 122-key Model M terminal keyboard. In addition, they have an Americanized version of the IBM Japan 5576-C01 which they sell as the Endura Pro (with pointing stick) and the Ultra Classic (without, formerly known as the Space Saver). They also produced Model M4 and M4-1 keyboards, but these seem to be out of production as of 2010. For their Model M-based keyboards, they offer both buckling spring and rubber dome variants. They also feature two low-end keyboards, the Value Plus and Web Board, made for them by Silitek. All other keyboards are manufactured by Unicomp in their Kentucky plant.

Unicomp offers customization services, allowing customers to order keyboards with custom keycaps, logos and key mappings. For example, they can make Dvorak-layout keyboards that work without special software settings, and Linux-layout keyboards that swap Caps Lock and Left Control, and Esc and Tilde.

Unicomp repairs existing IBM keyboards, generally replacing the internal keyboard assembly with one of their own new ones. They also offer a greasing service to quieten their buckling-spring keyboards. This modification costs $40 (presumably due to the labor involved in greasing 100+ springs) and waives the keyboard's warranty (due to concerns about the grease leaking downward and damaging the membrane).

Products