The best keyboard of the ‘80s is being resurrected

IBM Model F

Gather round, all ye hipsters, retro enthusiasts, and gamers of the old guard – IBM’s cult hit keyboard, the Model F, is back. And it looks and sounds as ‘80s as ever.

If you’re looking for gaming kit from the new school, check out our guide to the best gaming keyboards money can buy.

When the Model F keyboard hit desks in 1981, it was the beginning of a love affair for many PC users. To this day, people still swear by the distinctive clack of this beige board, and when you take a closer look at it you can see why. The housing was constructed of zinc, meaning the keyboard weighed nigh-on ten pounds, but was built like a tank, and featured IBM’s much-loved buckling spring mechanical keys.

Model F enthusiasts still swear by the buckling spring as the ultimate in keyboard tech. The spring underneath the key cap buckles and slaps a plastic paddle into the circuit board and metal plate below it, creating a distinctive click that has the keyboard’s devotees enthralled. 

IBM Buckling Spring Diagram

One IBM fanatic was so enthralled, in fact, that he has set about building brand new recreations of the Model F, faithful down to the off-white, bobbly powder coating. While Joe Strandberg started out restoring original Model Fs as a hobby, his intimate knowledge of the board’s workings make him the perfect person to recreate them at a larger capacity. 

Companies have tried to translate buckling spring tech into the modern day with little interest from the public, but in dedicating a great amount of time and effort to the beloved Model F, Strandberg has seen over 600 people throw upwards of $285,000 at him. Not bad for something that reportedly started out as a nights-and-weekends project… 

IBM Model F

The revamped Model F is made to order in several flavours, with black, grey, or off-white/beige bodies (you’ve got to go beige, surely?) colour choices. You can also choose between the full layout complete with numpad or cut it out and go compact. There are also several choices of key layout/design and customisable serial numbers that mean your keyboard can end up being unique to you. It’s going to cost you a premium, though. 

The lowest spec of revamped Model F is going to cost you $325. Yes, I know that you can get a powerful graphics card for that much money, but think of it in these terms: when the Model F debuted it cost $600, which in today’s money is an absolutely wallet-decimating $1,700. Getting your hands on that same quality (each hand-tested by Strandberg) at less than a fifth of the price may ease the pain a little, and the fact that orders are closing on July 31st also means you’ll get to brag about owning a limited edition of sorts. Besides, that metal body will likely outlive you.

Has this news enflamed your nostalgia gland, or will you be sticking with your modern-day mechanical keys? 

Thanks, Popular Mechanics.

War Thunder
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cpt.fantastic avatarRhys Coleman avatarJMiles2 avatar
cpt.fantastic Avatar
179
1 Week ago

Nice idea but that pricing kills it.

2
Rhys Coleman Avatar
5
1 Week ago

I can't help but agree - I'm still trying to wrap my head around the $1,700 adjusted figure for the originals!

2
JMiles2 Avatar
80
1 Week ago

I don't understand their logic behind this. They original model F isn't too hard to find, I bought one in a thrift store for like $3 (you'll be amazed how many people don't understand its value) and there are even adapters for it to make it connect to USB.... and I say it again, you get the original.

1