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IBM Model M review (buckling springs)

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The sound of buckling springs is really fascinating.

Red Moon:
Thanks for the detailed review they are the reason I am on this forum. :cool:

This is an old review by now, but the M is such an important keyboard to this community. People roughly in the millennial generation had a very good chance of this being their first mechanical keyboard experience.  They were everywhere. They were built like tanks. They felt objectively good to type on.

I remember being a very young kid when I was introduced to the M on one of my father's work machines in the early 90s, and asking him what happened to the "noisy keyboard" for years after he had to turn it back in to IBM. Rubber domes came in and replaced them by the mid to late 90s, but they still hung around in some classrooms and on people's desks for awhile. They were built better than the PCs they came with and didn't really age, so you'd sometimes see them hang on into the early 2000s.

By the late 2000s they had become "outdated" and "clunky" in allot of people's eyes. Though some people still used and cared for them, this was around the time that they started showing up for a dime a dozen at yard sales. Nobody wanted a beige whale on their desk anymore; it was "eccentric." But because they were so cheap, and still largely compatible with desktop rigs thanks to the PS2 port, this is when younger people who remembered them would've started to pick them back up. People like me who were in high school, on a limited budget, and wanted something better than the ubiquitous rubber dome. In this environment, when the mechanical keyboard was arguably at its lowest, a used Model M was by far the best bang for your buck in the clicky keyboard universe. Sturdy and reliable, even a heavily used one from a school or hospital was usually still functional (assuming nobody ever spilled their soda into it.) $15-25 was usually enough to get you a pretty good example.

Even as other mechanical keyboards entered the market and demand for high quality computer peripherals picked up, Model M prices remained low. There were just so many of them that still worked. They remained the de-facto entry point into mechanical keyboards. Even today, you can still find them for cheap with some luck and patience, because they're still chugging along.

I personally owe a debt to the Model M. I don't use mine too much anymore since getting a Model F, but wouldn't have made the decision to buy the F without experiencing the M first. It's a great keyboard that continues to be among the best entry level clicky keyboard options, even in a world where the choices have grown exponentially. Even if you're not a huge fan of the buckling spring feel or noise (especially noise) it's hard not to appreciate the build quality, engineering and influence that these keyboards have.


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