Author Topic: An obituary of a keyboard that I plan to harvest from: Tektronix  (Read 1369 times)

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Offline menuhin

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An obituary of a keyboard that I plan to harvest from: Tektronix
« on: Tue, 15 November 2016, 19:40:58 »
In my room, there is this basically New-In-Box keyboard staring at me, and a sense of guilt just rushes into my gut as I picture how I would dismantle it for its PBT caps and its switches.

How it all began was my feverish enthusiasm into knowing more about keyboards and switches: first buckling spring, then Cherry MX, then Topre, and then the Alps - the vintage ones because opinions out there is that vintage Alps are far more superior than the modern simplified versions.

There is not much readily written I can find out about the origin of this Alps-switch based keyboard and I feel obliged to dig a bit into its history.


This keyboard is from 'Tektronix' and has a part number 119-2468-03.


All information I could found on GH and DT was that it has some Alps switches and PBT caps, while there was no discussion about its history and its conversion for modern usage, e.g. through USB port.

What I noticed was that it is not listed so cheaply as it was in a few years ago, and 'Tektronix' sounds like a prominent brand. So I looked up 'Tektronix' and found that it is an engineering equipment company famous for its test and measurement devices such as oscilloscopes and logic analyzers. But these things need keyboards? I was immediately dumb-found.

After pulling up a 1988 product catalogue of Tektronix, I was finally able to see the first product photo of this keyboard with the terminal computer which costed $12,950 in 1988.
Tektronix back then in the 80s and early 90s was still in the Computer-aided Design market and manufactured many graphic design terminal computers. And they even have their own UNIX distribution called Tektronix Utek (BSD 4.2 based Unix) that has software technological advancements on its own.

I bet the engineers at that time would put quite some effort into perfecting the keyboards, there are already obvious design refinements depending it from the keyboards before the 1988 of the lower-cost terminal computer series. Well, it was getting closer to the standard 108-key full size keyboard layout.

However, just after 12 years. What I found was this e-mail:
Date: 15 Mar 2000 03:23:49 GMT
Organization: Globility Online Inc.
Newsgroups: comp.terminals
Message-ID: <8amvo5$43q$>
From: Don Cleghorn <>
Subject: Free: Tektronix terminals and misc.

Make an offer on any or all items, buyer arranges and pays for
shipping - all located near airport in Toronto, Ontario.  Except as
noted, all equipment is believed to be in working order, but has not
been in use for several years and has been stored in an office.
Everything is as-is - no warranties offered.

Unless there is a huge demand this stuff will go for FREE - I'm just
trying to save it from the dumpster!  Please respond to
And the list included a few of these Tektronix keyboards.

Yes, I want to save it from the dumpster. But "I don't have space" - I couldn't believe myself as people in the past needed to setup a computer desk in order to use a computer for even just word-processing. For the most part, I don't have the knowledge to convert it from its proprietary connection to the modern one, e.g. PS/2 or USB. And I constantly question why I would want to spend so much effort on hobbies like this?

During a visit of a small special shop that stock many these 'high-end' hobbyist keyboards, I found out that the boss was quite pessimistic about the future of this niches hobby. His argument was that, there are much fewer people that treasure keyboards nowadays and most people got away with the touchscreen-based keyboards on their smartphone and tablet and for most workers, they use laptops and are used to chiclet scissor switches.

Well, he is right; we belongs to a very small niche group and we are different from the mainstream. So what? (Oops... then therefore the high price-tag)

Perhaps I should just dismantle it. Why so serious?
« Last Edit: Tue, 15 November 2016, 20:24:18 by menuhin »
Wishlist: 1) hotswap gasket mount; 2) nice Alps blank caps; 3) Hipro Iris with adjustable tenting; 4) CNC POM case
Wishful-list: 1) All POM; 2) We order from; 3) Usable Trackpoint MK
IBM M13 black
IBM SpaceSaver II
IBM KPD8923 Trackpoint
Choc mini Gateron black
PLUM 84 'Topre-clone' 55g Korean dome
HHKB Pro 2 HasuBT
[It's not I don't like ISO, but I need the HHKB backspace... only ~90WPM, in love with Emacs, and Lisp]

Offline katushkin

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Re: An obituary of a keyboard that I plan to harvest from: Tektronix
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 15 November 2016, 19:58:46 »
Good job on the history investigation! I'm glad you provided so much info and not just one picture which is what I was expecting :P Some great pictures of old kit in there too!
Keyboard of the Month - May- Nominations

Can we get them to build the Alps ten feet higher and get Cherry to pay for it?
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