Author Topic: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification  (Read 18812 times)

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Offline whiskytango

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Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« on: Sat, 05 January 2013, 19:54:15 »
I have seen this discussed already here: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36485.0

I just pulled the switches off of a WYSE terminal board with a manufacture date of March 1996. I found three distinct logos on the switch housings.

According to the linked thread above (and the other threads referenced in it), The switches on Row 1 in the pic below are the newer switches and the Row 2 switches are "vintage". So what is Row 3? I thought these were vintage at first since they were obviously different from the top aligned, small font logo said to be found on newer MX Blacks (see linked thread above). But note the smaller, less distinct logo and the beveled edge around the hole for the stem. I staged three of each switch type in rows for the pics:



Is the switch in Row 3 "vintage" or not? Anyone know? There were only 6 of the Row 1 switches on this board. The rest were approximately 60% of Row 3 type and 40% Row 2 type. The board is a new in package WYSE 840366-01 WY85 Gate Array terminal board. I'd like to know because I have more of these boards to desolder and I don't want to mislabel the switches.

As near as I can tell, Row 1 looks just like the newer switches and Row 2 looks just like the "vintage" switches described in the linked thread above. I just don't know what to do with the Row 3 switches. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: I wanted to add that the bevel on the Row 3 switches is shiny and you can see it by rotating the switch under a good light. This is what jumped out at me first. You can see it in some of these shots as the flash is reflecting off of it.

More pics:




« Last Edit: Sat, 05 January 2013, 21:03:07 by whiskytango »
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Offline precarious

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 05 January 2013, 20:07:39 »


From a Cherry G80-0777 Amiga 1000 keyboard

Thanks for posting this thread, I had consciously noted the offset when looking at a few of my own, but I never really cared enough to put them side by side to see if it was just my imagination or not.

Offline urbanus

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 05 January 2013, 23:28:36 »
I just pulled the switches off of a WYSE terminal board with a manufacture date of March 1996. I found three distinct logos on the switch housings.

Yes, you're right.  This is a common phenomenon with Wyse boards: they generally have a random mix of the three types of switch housing.

Is the switch in Row 3 "vintage" or not? Anyone know?

I don't know, but they all feel pretty much the same to me -- including the ones with the "new"-style logos.

So my conclusion would be that you know a Cherry black is vintage if it has the old-style logo or the bevelled edge; if it has a new-style logo, then depending on its age it may effectively be vintage.  The only way to tell for sure is feel.

Offline rootwyrm

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 06 January 2013, 04:08:22 »
A 1996 manufacture date would not be a vintage MX Black, technically. They would be much closer to newer blacks than true vintage blacks.

Now, a 1986 manufacture date would be vintage MX Black for sure. And wouldn't you know it, my Wyse board? Yup. 1987 internal markings - so close enough! This is the original RJ11 board off a Wyse PC286, so guaranteed to be pre-1991.

- Cherries part of the logo slightly over the top rounded edge.
- "Cherry" branding vertically centered compared the the cherries using the small font.
- The keystem should rest naturally slightly HIGHER than the lip.
- Sharply defined bottom edge on top housing, rounded top edge.
- Flat stem.
- "Peaked" cutout. NOT rounded, there is a defined peak at the top of the stem.

So yes, Row 3 is vintage MX Black. On the Amiga example, the left is 'vintage' while the right has the later housing style. Every single MX Black on my Wyse keyboard here looks close to the OP's Row 3. OP's Row 3 looks like it has a sharper curve on the top than mine, but that may be lighting. Can't get good photos of it right now, but will be getting them at some point in the future.
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Offline whiskytango

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 06 January 2013, 09:27:36 »
Thanks for the replies. Good input. And yes, I have tried to do a "feel" test. I will randomly pull out two different switches and shake them like dice so I don't know which is which then push them for a minute. Everytime, the one I think is stiffer is the switch from Row 1 in the photo, the ones that the thread I linked to in the OP says are "newer". So I guess the other two are vintage then based on the input so far.

rootwyrm, thanks for the info, I never considered looking at those details to see if they were different. I am curious though, you said :
On the Amiga example, the left is 'vintage' while the right has the later housing style.

But the one on the left in the Amiga picture is like the one on my Row 1 it looks to me. It is also looks the same as the "newer" style photos I have found in previous threads. I would have said the one on the left is the newer style and the one on the right is vintage in precarious's photo. Is that what you meant to say?

But really, thanks for the replies on this everyone.
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Offline TotalChaos

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 06 January 2013, 11:40:35 »
Does anyone know the manufacture date of the Amiga 1000 Cherry G80-0777 keyboards?

Normal A1000 keyboards were all manufacutred in 1984-1986.  Probably most of them were manufactured in 1985.

But the Cherry G80-0777 is nowhere close to a normal Amiga keyboard.  It looks really weird and I never heard of it until a few days ago.

It is by far the rarest Amiga keyboard ever.

I am just wondering if they were made in the 80s or 90s or ?
I am also wondering who made them?

They look like "some guy threw them together in the garage one day using spare parts left over from other projects"  :p
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Offline precarious

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 02:03:19 »
Does anyone know the manufacture date of the Amiga 1000 Cherry G80-0777 keyboards?

Normal A1000 keyboards were all manufacutred in 1984-1986.  Probably most of them were manufactured in 1985.

But the Cherry G80-0777 is nowhere close to a normal Amiga keyboard.  It looks really weird and I never heard of it until a few days ago.

It is by far the rarest Amiga keyboard ever.

I am just wondering if they were made in the 80s or 90s or ?
I am also wondering who made them?

They look like "some guy threw them together in the garage one day using spare parts left over from other projects"  :p

Thanks for making me have second thoughts about selling it. =/

I didn't notice any manufacture date when I took it apart, although I didn't really look, either.  I'm not really sure what the deal with the keyboard is exactly either, but it seems to me they added some kind of Amiga-specific controller to the PCB, you can see it in the pictures.  I imagine it was made around the time the G80-0777, but maybe it was a limited run or something, not cost effective enough.  Doesn't really explain why they went on to do Amiga 2000 keyboards, then; maybe they cobbled it together from those parts?

Back to the vintage blacks:  the switches on the Amiga board are really smooth compared to this other 1988ish WYSE board I have, but I'm wondering if maybe the WYSE switches are just filthy as hell.



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Offline rootwyrm

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 03:17:59 »
But the one on the left in the Amiga picture is like the one on my Row 1 it looks to me. It is also looks the same as the "newer" style photos I have found in previous threads. I would have said the one on the left is the newer style and the one on the right is vintage in precarious's photo. Is that what you meant to say?

Nopenope.. look at the Amiga picture. Smaller font is on the left. Looks like the wrong cutout though, but I think that's angle. What's weird to me is that they're two very different housing types. My Wyse is entirely consistent across all switches. No variation at all. All with the tiny font.
The G80-0777 is not Amiga specific. It's AT and follows AT Set 2 scancodes. AT Set2, contrary to what you may have been told, actually supports 24 function keys. No, not as 5250 scancodes or such. As native Set2 scancode.

It's probably dirt. The switches on my Wyse are smooth as silk. Hell, they're smoother than a brand new MX Black. And please, please tell me that TO-300 keyboard is the DIN5 one, precarious. Because I desperately need photos of the PCB if it is so I can try to figure out what the hell Wyse U57 actually does without risking destroying it.
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Offline precarious

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 03:42:46 »
But the one on the left in the Amiga picture is like the one on my Row 1 it looks to me. It is also looks the same as the "newer" style photos I have found in previous threads. I would have said the one on the left is the newer style and the one on the right is vintage in precarious's photo. Is that what you meant to say?

Nopenope.. look at the Amiga picture. Smaller font is on the left. Looks like the wrong cutout though, but I think that's angle. What's weird to me is that they're two very different housing types. My Wyse is entirely consistent across all switches. No variation at all. All with the tiny font.
The G80-0777 is not Amiga specific. It's AT and follows AT Set 2 scancodes. AT Set2, contrary to what you may have been told, actually supports 24 function keys. No, not as 5250 scancodes or such. As native Set2 scancode.

It's probably dirt. The switches on my Wyse are smooth as silk. Hell, they're smoother than a brand new MX Black. And please, please tell me that TO-300 keyboard is the DIN5 one, precarious. Because I desperately need photos of the PCB if it is so I can try to figure out what the hell Wyse U57 actually does without risking destroying it.


it was the 4p4c style cable, or at least a phone plug style one. i  was thinking about replacing the controller on it, any thoughts?

Offline rootwyrm

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 04:01:29 »
it was the 4p4c style cable, or at least a phone plug style one. i  was thinking about replacing the controller on it, any thoughts?

In a nutshell: you can't.

The controller and switch PCB are one unit. The whole thing is just one big PCB. And the controller is actually missing a piece. On certain Wyse PC286 models, this is identified as "U57" and sits between the i8042 and the keyboard. (On others, they use a proprietary IC which has the missing function and the i8042.) The problem is that it's a proprietary IC, function unknown, and virtually impossible to find in working order - in part because you need a complete working PC286.
Well, I have a PC286... but I am terrified to death of damaging U57 for obvious reasons. I know there's a DIN5 version with a different PCB, but I have yet to find anyone with one to take photos of. Would make it far easier to figure out what U57 does. :(
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Offline pasph

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 08:24:31 »
On the Amiga example, the left is 'vintage'

Nopenope.. look at the Amiga picture. Smaller font is on the left.

So the 'vintage' black switches are the ones with smaller font?

The logo is ever so slightly bigger on the vintage switches.
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Offline whiskytango

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 08:38:11 »
So the 'vintage' black switches are the ones with smaller font?

Yeah, I'm confused here too. Becasue I came into this thread with the notion that the smaller font switches were definitely not vintage based on reading http://deskthority.net/photos-videos-f8/cherry-mx-old-vs-new-t139-30.html and http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36485.0

My question was between the other two switch types. This is what I had had gathered from the other threads for the switches in my pic in the OP:

Row 1= Newer
Row 2= Vintage
Row 3= ?

And then rootwyrm says:
Quote
So yes, Row 3 is vintage MX Black.

So I'm thinking, OK, Row 1= New and Rows 2 & 3= Vintage, right?

and then he says:
On the Amiga example, the left is 'vintage'

and

Nopenope.. look at the Amiga picture. Smaller font is on the left.

So....
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Offline metalliqaz

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 08:40:30 »
I have two Wyse boards from the eighties, they are sequential in their serial numbers.  One is almost entirely vintage blacks, the other is more like 50/50 with a random distribution of newer switches.  To me, they feel identical.

Offline damorgue

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 08:58:07 »
Show Image


That image should be in the wiki. I have seen a few images trying to portray the differences in the logo, but none as clear and explicit as that one.

Offline precarious

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 10:52:03 »
Maybe this was mentioned already, but I read at some point that some "vintage" switches have the newer outer housing since there was a transition period of some sort.

Offline cgbuen

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 11:52:59 »
I had something here on a similar topic: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=37987.msg729612#msg729612

Cliffs: Perhaps you can identify vintage by the stems, and not only by the housing. I don't have any modern blacks (i.e. within the past few years) on hand to compare, but I do have a number of other colors, and I've noticed that vintage black stems have numbers visible on certain locations where some of the other modern colors' stems don't.

Offline IvanIvanovich

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 12:12:45 »
Cherry started making the housing type in early 80's when they introduced the M8. I suppose they used those mold until they were no longer any good and made some new ones and made the logo smaller at that time and some 'refinements'. Same with the stems, there is some differences in blacks and even blues that I have noticed. Some have a notch in the stem mount other don't, other little things, and I believe there was some changes made in plastic composition at some points also which may contribute to some difference in feeling.
I would guess they just assembled switches with whatever parts they had on hand and there may be some mix of different part generations.

Offline precarious

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 07 January 2013, 14:21:53 »
Cherry started making the housing type in early 80's when they introduced the M8. I suppose they used those mold until they were no longer any good and made some new ones and made the logo smaller at that time and some 'refinements'. Same with the stems, there is some differences in blacks and even blues that I have noticed. Some have a notch in the stem mount other don't, other little things, and I believe there was some changes made in plastic composition at some points also which may contribute to some difference in feeling.
I would guess they just assembled switches with whatever parts they had on hand and there may be some mix of different part generations.

that really makes the most sense, especially from a business perspective

Offline Gloomy Moonie

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 30 August 2014, 12:58:18 »
Hey guys,
Found this Bondwell B200 laptops lot w/Cherry MX blues, supposedly from 1988. After talking to the seller and requesting switch photos, this is what he sent me:

(Click the image to see the manufacture stickers of the three laptops, if these mean anything to you)
If I understand correctly, those aren't vintage, but assuming that the manufacture date is indeed 1988, how come those have the newer logos? Or did Cherry begin to produce them earlier than 1988?
I've also contacted the seller of this Bondwell B310, and he said that about 1/3 of the switches were vintage MX blues, while the rest had the newer logo. Oddly enough, the manufacture date is 1991.
If anyone can shed some light on this it would be much appreciated.

Offline damorgue

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #19 on: Sat, 30 August 2014, 15:27:34 »
Nice necro-post :)


I agree with what Ivan stated above. I don't think there is any consensus regarding what defines the vintage switches. It appears as if the polymers used might have been modified at some point, and that the molds were replaced around approximately the same time. I haven't seen any proof of this however. The molds were likely not all replaced at the same time but replaced as they wore down or required updating. If that is the case, there may be switches made using the new compounds in the old molds and vice versa. It might also have been caused by a need to produce larger volumes and new tools were simply added for that reason and that both molds might have been used simultaneously during some time. Their process might have been updated, injection machines exchanged for other or process temperatures adjusted for whatever reason. There are many voices in the whole vintage switch debacle claiming one or the other and no one can know for sure except Cherry.

I guess what I want to get at is that if there was a change in material or whatever it might have been, it may not perfectly coincide with a change in the molds.

Offline Gloomy Moonie

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Re: Vintage Cherry MX Blacks Identification
« Reply #20 on: Sat, 30 August 2014, 15:52:23 »
Yeah, sorry but I had to ask and couldn't find a more appropriate thread.
Thanks for the explanation, I finally get it. Are there any conjectures on when were the materials changed?
Aside from that, I have a more specific question regarding MX blues: while the reason for getting vintage MX blacks is quite obvious, is there an actual point for getting vintage blues?
I've noticed that a batch I currently have on hand has an inconsistent pitch of the click, while another has a higher pitched click, which sounds better imo. Coincidentally the former are also very scratchy.
Have you guys encountered any such issues? And are there any objective characteristics I can judge a switch by before purchase (e.g. logo, DOM etc.), or is this kind of thing purely based on luck?