Author Topic: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory  (Read 3004 times)

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Offline el_murdoque

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Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 08:24:13 »
Hello fellow keyboard enthusiasts.

I am desperately hunting a ghost of the past and I don't really know how much I can trust my memory, but my guess is that I've come to the right place.
Here's the story: Around the turn of the century, I worked in IT. I interned for a small German ISP. Since I mostly did program database related stuff and I was just another intern, my machine was built from what was lying around, mostly driftwood and potatoes, barely strong enough to run Debian. However, this company has had some real treasures in terms of keyboards. Back then I knew next to nothing about switches, domes and scissors and could not tell a buckling spring from a MX blue because both clicked.
I had a rich choice of keyboards, but I stuck to the one that came with my machine, which was an Acer desktop, mid nineties, in beer bottle green. The desktop, monitor and keyboard all came in that color. The keyboard had a hand rest in a blueish purple. I tested a few other boards and decided I liked this one best. If my memory is correct, it was clicky, but with less force than others and not as loud as most. The thing is, I chose that over a variety of Model M's which were lying around because I liked the typing feeling better. And that's quite something. I cannot tell if I was just young and dumb and uneducated and fell in love with a cheap piece of rubbish for all the wrong reasons or if that one really was a decent board worth hunting.
A somewhat chaotic but nonetheless extensive search on the interwebs yielded not much, provided that I can only compare the results to faded 20 year old memories. I think I found the system  to be an Acer Aspire One in Emerald Green, dated to 1996. But that's where it ended. I found a pic of what I believe to be the board:



Mine had the European (German) layout with the big Enter key, though.

Does any of you know if this board has a name or part number that can be searched, or failing that, which kind of switch was used in there,
or even if it was just another rubberdome board and my memory is faulty?
Any input would be much appreciated since I am typing this message on MX Browns and cannot decide whether the scratchy feel on the downstroke or the slight metal ringing noise when the keycaps come to the resting position after release buggers me more. . .
 
« Last Edit: Mon, 06 January 2020, 09:18:38 by el_murdoque »

Offline yui

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Re: Mid 90's Asus Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 09:07:24 »
How did you find the photo? do you know of the PC model number? or even its range? those could be decent starting points to search from
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Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 09:18:10 »
No, nothing, sorry.
I started by searching for Acer and Green, until I eventually found out they called that color Emerald Green.
An Image search yielded one or two similar looking models, and further reading
suggests that there has been a somewhat limited run of these in 1996.

When you Google "Acer Aspire One Emerald Green 1996", you can see a few pics of the system, but none of the links yield useful Information.
I think I read or heard in a YT video that some of those old Acer boards used Alps switches, but I cannot find that source either.

Offline dgneo

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Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 09:31:51 »
I'm not sure if Acer was making the KB-101A keyboard as late as 1996, but the way you describe it, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a keyboard with blue Alps switches.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OcHnqzgkzKo

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 11:44:08 »
I'm not sure if Acer was making the KB-101A keyboard as late as 1996, but the way you describe it, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a keyboard with blue Alps switches.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OcHnqzgkzKo

This review sounds like it's describing the switches from my memory.

Are there affordable standard layout keyboards (preferably German) with blue alps switches still available?
AFAIK the original ALPS are no more, but are there legacy products or clones?
 

Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 14:06:32 »
Not sure about German layout, but there are various Alps clone keyboards still being made. Matias is the main one I can think of.

Offline chyros

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 14:16:26 »
I'm not sure if Acer was making the KB-101A keyboard as late as 1996, but the way you describe it, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a keyboard with blue Alps switches.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OcHnqzgkzKo
No, no way. I can't recall a single keyboard with blue Alps from the 90s.
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Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 15:29:42 »
If anyone would know, it's you! :D

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 17:25:23 »
I found an Acer 6511-HW on Google, dated 10/19/96. That should be right in the ballpark time period, right? Most Acer 6511s should be dome with slider, correct? If I shouldn't link this, just let me know and I'll take it down:

https://www.bonanza.com/items/like/608004533/Acer-6511-6511-HW-Black-Clickety-Clack-PS2-Keyboard

And here's one that appears to be green (though it has Windows keys, and the FCC ID seems to reflect that), same model number, same year:

http://ru.pc-history.com/acer-keyboard-model-6511-hw-ps2.html

It also appears that there's an Acer 6312-HW that has the same case, which would have Acer switches, but all of the pictures I find of those also include Windows keys.

Maybe someone should kindly ask that guy on Ebay to pry a keycap off and get a picture.
« Last Edit: Mon, 06 January 2020, 17:54:22 by Maledicted »

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 06 January 2020, 18:37:07 »
If my memory is correct, it was clicky, but with less force than others and not as loud as most.
"Clicky" around here means that it makes a click noise when you press the key, no matter how softly you press the key and before you reach the bottom. The Model M are clicky. Beware that on eBay however, lots of keyboards are labelled as "clicky" even though they are not and eBay does not do anything about that.

Acer used two types of clicky switches:
Clicky Alps, blue or white slider. The white succeeded the blue (more or less)
Clicky Acer switches which were cheaper and made into the mid-90's for sure. They were put into models Acer 6311 and 6312, which came in many different variations with different case styles. The 6312-HW variation matches your pic, but I would think that any 6311/12 should be close in feel. There are a few on European eBay right now for around 30-40 but none in the exact variant and none in German layout.
« Last Edit: Mon, 06 January 2020, 18:43:31 by Findecanor »
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 09 January 2020, 08:38:02 »
Did you ever find exactly what you were looking for?

Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 09 January 2020, 19:17:09 »
Did a little bit o digging and found a neat old Dutch commercial for the system:


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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 11 January 2020, 00:31:35 »
Did a little bit o digging and found a neat old Dutch commercial for the system:


Nice find. Based on the model number of the computer in the commercial, a Google search turned up this. No pictures, but it does say it is an emerald green keyboard meant for the T5000. Model number 6511, as previously speculated. Part number 6511H81BLUS, which seems to barely exist at all on the internet:

https://www.ebay.com/p/14020897614

So, probably Acer dome with slider? It looks like the world may never know.

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 14 January 2020, 07:29:37 »
If my memory is correct, it was clicky, but with less force than others and not as loud as most.
"Clicky" around here means that it makes a click noise when you press the key, no matter how softly you press the key and before you reach the bottom. The Model M are clicky. Beware that on eBay however, lots of keyboards are labelled as "clicky" even though they are not and eBay does not do anything about that.

Acer used two types of clicky switches:
Clicky Alps, blue or white slider. The white succeeded the blue (more or less)
Clicky Acer switches which were cheaper and made into the mid-90's for sure. They were put into models Acer 6311 and 6312, which came in many different variations with different case styles. The 6312-HW variation matches your pic, but I would think that any 6311/12 should be close in feel. There are a few on European eBay right now for around 30-40 but none in the exact variant and none in German layout.


Yeah, that's the problem with memories ... they fade. I cannot remember the feeling of the keys when they were bottomed out, which could be a good indicator to tell the difference. I know that the tactility was great. The click was audible, but in that office full of nerds, the Model M was considered standard, so no one minded how loud your typing got. It was less loud than buckling spring was, but it was nowhere near silent.

I guess I will have to abandon that idea and take a good look around more modern switches. I could simply find a switch that feels like I remember that old Acer board felt and get a decent board equipped with that switch. As luck would have it, I'm more of a dinosaur when it comes to keyboards. I don't need Windows keys (but I can live with them), but I need a standard layout with nav cluster and num block. I simply can't abide those modern boards where stuff is missing and/or not where it's supposed to be.


Not sure about German layout, but there are various Alps clone keyboards still being made. Matias is the main one I can think of.

I've had a look at the Matias website. The only tactile board they are offering is a mac layout and its design speaks of vintage mac - which is, in my humble opinion, the polar opposite of beautiful.

Is there anyone actually producing the switch cherry had in mind when they did the MX brown?
I don't really need a click. I want tactility and smooth operation. My MX browns were okay when I got them but now they kind of feel like reds with sand in the stems. The tactile bump makes a good job of hiding within the scratchyness and I think it's more muscle memory than tactility that lets me type without bottoming out the keys.   

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 14 January 2020, 09:20:30 »
Is there anyone actually producing the switch cherry had in mind when they did the MX brown?
I don't really need a click. I want tactility and smooth operation. My MX browns were okay when I got them but now they kind of feel like reds with sand in the stems. The tactile bump makes a good job of hiding within the scratchyness and I think it's more muscle memory than tactility that lets me type without bottoming out the keys.

I think the Kailh Box tactiles feel a lot better than Cherry MX Brown/Sand, but I haven't used them in a board. They're a lot smoother, with more of a light bump instead of just varying degrees of grit. If you want a quality mechanical that feels like your old Acer, which was probably a dome with slider board, maybe Topre? (I have never tried Topre myself). Actual dome with slider boards are cheaply available, used, just about everywhere as well.

Most of the best switches for tactility though are also clicky, since producing decent tactility usually results in some kind of clicking noise.

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 14 January 2020, 11:41:10 »
Is there anyone actually producing the switch cherry had in mind when they did the MX brown?
I don't really need a click. I want tactility and smooth operation. My MX browns were okay when I got them but now they kind of feel like reds with sand in the stems. The tactile bump makes a good job of hiding within the scratchyness and I think it's more muscle memory than tactility that lets me type without bottoming out the keys.

I think the Kailh Box tactiles feel a lot better than Cherry MX Brown/Sand, but I haven't used them in a board. They're a lot smoother, with more of a light bump instead of just varying degrees of grit. If you want a quality mechanical that feels like your old Acer, which was probably a dome with slider board, maybe Topre? (I have never tried Topre myself). Actual dome with slider boards are cheaply available, used, just about everywhere as well.

Most of the best switches for tactility though are also clicky, since producing decent tactility usually results in some kind of clicking noise.

Agreed, Alps clickies are even better than their tactiles because they are actually more tactile than the tactiles! :)
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Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 03:55:05 »
I gave up on that whole Idea and quit searching for old acer boards entirely.
But the universe works in strange ways, so shortly after that decision was made, I ran into an old 6312-K.
Google says it has Acer switches, the ones that hammer on a membrane. Seller was asking me to make an offer, I offered ten bucks and we agreed.
I will have to give the keycaps a run through the dishwasher and see what I can do about the rest because
it surely does look like it has gotten some use out of the last 28 years. It's on its way now and should arrive mid week.
I'm highly curious.
 

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 04:06:33 »
Congratulations. Please post here afterwards!

Do invest in a keycap puller before pulling the caps for washing because that style of keycap-mount can break if you are not careful. And do wash them at low temperature, and in a washing bag (for lingerie) so you won't lose them!
Another way to wash keycaps is to use denture cleaning tablets: there should be several threads about them.
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Offline Natalia259

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 06:15:19 »
You remind me 200s decade :)

Offline chyros

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 09:02:34 »
I gave up on that whole Idea and quit searching for old acer boards entirely.
But the universe works in strange ways, so shortly after that decision was made, I ran into an old 6312-K.
Google says it has Acer switches, the ones that hammer on a membrane. Seller was asking me to make an offer, I offered ten bucks and we agreed.
I will have to give the keycaps a run through the dishwasher and see what I can do about the rest because
it surely does look like it has gotten some use out of the last 28 years. It's on its way now and should arrive mid week.
I'm highly curious.
Don't use hot water to wash ABS keycaps; you might warp them. Use tepid soapy water instead.
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 11:29:53 »
I gave up on that whole Idea and quit searching for old acer boards entirely.
But the universe works in strange ways, so shortly after that decision was made, I ran into an old 6312-K.
Google says it has Acer switches, the ones that hammer on a membrane. Seller was asking me to make an offer, I offered ten bucks and we agreed.
I will have to give the keycaps a run through the dishwasher and see what I can do about the rest because
it surely does look like it has gotten some use out of the last 28 years. It's on its way now and should arrive mid week.
I'm highly curious.
Don't use hot water to wash ABS keycaps; you might warp them. Use tepid soapy water instead.

Congratulations. Please post here afterwards!

Do invest in a keycap puller before pulling the caps for washing because that style of keycap-mount can break if you are not careful. And do wash them at low temperature, and in a washing bag (for lingerie) so you won't lose them!
Another way to wash keycaps is to use denture cleaning tablets: there should be several threads about them.


Thank you, will do.


Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 20:46:28 »
I'd love to see some pictures, since this thread will probably in the future be the best source of info on they keyboard, literally.

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Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 28 January 2020, 10:47:57 »
Don't use hot water to wash ABS keycaps; you might warp them. Use tepid soapy water instead.

Didn't know that. I have washed the keycaps of at least 7+ cheaper keyboards in hot soapy water in the past (I'm talking mostly rubber domes, since I used to be even cheaper, and knew nothing of mechanicals then). I imagine all of them had ABS caps. I have never had a problem, but it may as well be room temperature though for me, since I usually let them soak overnight.

I'd love to see some pictures, since this thread will probably in the future be the best source of info on they keyboard, literally.

^ This.

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 28 January 2020, 17:08:40 »
I'd love to see some pictures, since this thread will probably in the future be the best source of info on they keyboard, literally.

I will see what I can do!

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #25 on: Wed, 29 January 2020, 05:59:42 »
234594-0
Well, thanks to the German Postal Service, I received a package today.
234600-1
Unboxed, It's an Acer 6312-K in ISO-DE Layout.

234596-2
234598-3
This board has seen a fair bit of use. I hooked it up to my PC and actually am typing this message on it. The tactility is quite something. There is an audible click and all the force comes at once.
It feels quite scratchy, though. I wonder if anything can be done about this?
234602-4
It has the Alps looking Acer switches which I gather are 'little hammer hits membrane' switches.

I will give it a thorough cleaning, but that'll have to wait until next week, because I am still waiting on the keycap puller and these ones sit tight.
One thing I instantly noticed is that the backspace key is a bit wonky. The tactile click happens, but the keypress is registered a fraction below that.
I am quite capable of hitting that button and getting the loud click but no result.
The other thing is that the F and J keys are like all the others, no little humps on their back. This seems such a trivial little  thing but it drives me nuts.

So, to tap your wisdom again: 
Once I pulled all the caps off and stored them overnight with Grandma's teeth which will hopefully restore some of the looks. . . 
Once I cleaned the rest as good as I can, what measures can I take to get the board operating smoother than it does now?

Memory is a tricky thing, but I think that this is the type of switch I used  in that emerald green board of my youth.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #26 on: Wed, 29 January 2020, 14:07:26 »
Cool board, thanks for sharing. I think I have seen some in that chassis on Ebay. They do appear to be some kind of Alps hybrid. Alps sliders get gritty with the smallest amount of debri, so you may have to disassemble the offending switches and clean them out. Personally, I have no idea if the disassembly process is the same as Alps or not, if so, Chyros has a nice video series on Alps switch cleaning on Youtube.

I don't consider the lack of home bumps to be a small thing myself, I can't imagine that it is for any touch typist. The original Model F keyboards don't have them either, neither do some of the TG3 keyboards even apparently, somehow. My quick and dirty solution is a dab of high temperature hot glue on the f and j keys. It is sturdy enough to stay put if you want it to, but can be removed cleanly without too much effort on most surfaces.

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 29 January 2020, 17:19:19 »
We shall see how well that old board cleans up and how it will perform then.
There's always ebay if I don't like it at all.
I cheaped out on the choices of key pullers and went with one that's coming from china, but it should arrive on the weekend or shortly after. I'll have some Corega tabs by then and will have typed a bit on the board.

I did a bit of testing earlier and figured it only has 2 key rollover in a nasty fashion. When I press Shift and W, S or X, it won't register any other keypresses and I can think of a lot of situations where that comes in as a problem while gaming.


Offline Maledicted

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #28 on: Wed, 29 January 2020, 18:00:00 »
Oh, yeah, that could suck for games, even some hotkeys.

Offline flurryvelvet

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #29 on: Sat, 01 February 2020, 00:35:40 »
We shall see how well that old board cleans up and how it will perform then.
There's always ebay if I don't like it at all.
I cheaped out on the choices of key pullers and went with one that's coming from china, but it should arrive on the weekend or shortly after. I'll have some Corega tabs by then and will have typed a bit on the board.

I did a bit of testing earlier and figured it only has 2 key rollover in a nasty fashion. When I press Shift and W, S or X, it won't register any other keypresses and I can think of a lot of situations where that comes in as a problem while gaming.

Remember, 2-key rollover keyboards, like this and the Model M, is usually used by typists.

Offline el_murdoque

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #30 on: Sat, 01 February 2020, 04:44:05 »
Remember, 2-key rollover keyboards, like this and the Model M, is usually used by typists.

Yes, typists of the old days. I have some office functions mapped to multiple modifiers (alt+ctrl+shift+<key>) that won't work either with that board.
I do remember playing DOOM on those keyboards, though, where four or even five simultaneous key presses were common - and I distinctly remember that in my little village, there was only one boy who had a keyboard that had issues with it.
I could be wrong here, but does 2 key rollover not mean '2 is the absolute minimum we guarantee, but if you press the right keys you will get many more' ?

Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Mid 90's Acer Keyboard haunting my memory
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 01 February 2020, 09:51:20 »
Visual Studio Code has a super useful key combo of Ctrl+Alt+Arrow for multiline editing. That's a no go on my SSK. :(