Author Topic: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)  (Read 19490 times)

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Offline chyros

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IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 03:41:45 »
Breaking length records yet again, I spent a LOT of time doing this one - hope you like it! :) I'll be on holiday for two weeks, so see you guys in three! ;)

Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline JP

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 13:05:16 »
Awesome review. Very informative as usual.
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Offline dante

  • Posts: 2553
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 09 September 2017, 13:59:28 »
I know chyros will want to set me on fire but I prefer the M2 (1395300) to the M.  I love the slim trim profile a great deal more.

True the capacitors will need replacing but AFAIK it will never require a bolt mod.  I know he tried this board and wasn't impressed but please consider these are going on 30 years now and wear is going to happen in some of them.

My only complaint is some M2's (and M's) used different weight springs.  I've had 5 or 6 1390120's and the springs were consistently much lighter than average compared to something I found made in the 90's.

I don't mind the lighter weight actually and considered - as unholy as it sounds - springs from the 1390120 into a M2 but not sure if it would work.

I wish Chyros could do an interview with Unicomp but they are as secretive as North Korea.

Offline chyros

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 12 September 2017, 14:39:05 »
I agree, the older ones consistently feel lighter.

The M2 definitely has its advantages, it just happens that I don't find most apply to me xD .
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline Prothrin

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 12 October 2017, 04:19:43 »
Awesome review! Very detailed and your voice has an authoritative, yet soothing quality to it, haha.

Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 25 January 2018, 15:09:30 »
Great review, great keyboard, i have the 1999 Model M  ;)

@all 3127 Model M users, i am wondering about 1 thing: the texture on my <F> and <J> keys is smoother and less pronounced than on all my other letter keys. Maybe the PBT has worn off on these 2 keys or maybe that's reality as from leaving the keycap factory.

What do you guys think, any similar observations?

If i had to take a guess, to me it seems that both keycaps come that way, smoother. Their surface texture really doesn't look as if the keycaps were worn down smooth by my two index fingas. My keeb was Like New when i got it and i did do countless races on Typeracer, so I am wondering.

Offline rowdy

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 29 January 2018, 19:41:23 »
Great review, great keyboard, i have the 1999 Model M  ;)

@all 3127 Model M users, i am wondering about 1 thing: the texture on my <F> and <J> keys is smoother and less pronounced than on all my other letter keys. Maybe the PBT has worn off on these 2 keys or maybe that's reality as from leaving the keycap factory.

What do you guys think, any similar observations?

If i had to take a guess, to me it seems that both keycaps come that way, smoother. Their surface texture really doesn't look as if the keycaps were worn down smooth by my two index fingas. My keeb was Like New when i got it and i did do countless races on Typeracer, so I am wondering.

Maybe from someone touch-typing on it for years (decades?) and resting/rubbing their fingers against the home keys hundreds of times every day.
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

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Offline 1391401

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 30 January 2018, 16:05:55 »
Great video!  I just found your channel the other day and have been watching your videos.  Thanks for this.
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Offline ThoughtArtist

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 02 February 2018, 23:16:09 »
Nice re-review! I like all your new work on the channel. I had to take a break from "keyboarding" for awhile so I have just now seen this.

I got what ended up being a very lightly used, nearly Mint '89 Model M from a Goodwill seller on ebay for $50. It looked like it had been stored in a shed, but cleaned up better than just about any other keyboard could have from 1989.

I still prefer Cherry MX Browns for typing though. The M feels nice at first, but it feels a bit slow to type on after awhile for me. It's just my preference though as I like to glide a bit more over the keys as I type, and even MX Clears just feel faster due to the springiness. Also, the M feels more "plasticy" than my smaller MX boards with solid metal mounting plates and thick PBT keycaps.

It just feels like the M is a compromised design. I love the typing feel of the Model F (sans the awful spacebar) better than any Cherry switch, for sure, though it is definitely louder and potentially more annoying than the M. From a sound engineering perspective, I'd say the M is the winner if the goal was to make it more acceptable to general users.

I think if they had just made a newer version of the F, with the PCB, it could have been a true evolution instead of a compromise. Despite the legendary status of the M, and the standard layout it introduced, I think the Model M is actually representative of IBM's general decline more than anything else about the company. (Maybe even representative of the decline of the West as well... I mean Unicomp is such a fall from grace. It can be depressing to think about, especially for Americans who saw IBM's and U.S.'s manufacturing decline first-hand)
« Last Edit: Fri, 02 February 2018, 23:38:48 by ThoughtArtist »
The Model-M is more plasticy than a standard metal mounting-plate Cherry MX Brown TKL keyboard.

Offline ThoughtArtist

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 02:32:14 »
Correction in previous comment:


I know better than to say evolution, in any matter, is only towards something more advanced or somehow better as we like to think.)

I meant to say the Model M, from my perspective, represents more of a "regression" than a progression in tech (IBM or overall or just the West, or the U.S. itself).

I feel like history may end up showing that the Model M is symbolically the turning point in modernity when all modern technological advancement started to slow and regress, despite other prolonged advances that would/have come afterward for awhile.


The Model M could be considered extremely significant, BUT...

[maybe, perhaps. I or anyone can't know precisely yet but I think its a reasonable enough possibility to be considered and not be a just hunch]



« Last Edit: Sat, 03 February 2018, 02:49:54 by ThoughtArtist »
The Model-M is more plasticy than a standard metal mounting-plate Cherry MX Brown TKL keyboard.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 03:10:45 »
I think the Model M is actually representative of IBM's general decline more than anything else about the company. (Maybe even representative of the decline of the West as well... I mean Unicomp is such a fall from grace. It can be depressing to think about, especially for Americans who saw IBM's and U.S.'s manufacturing decline first-hand)
Unicomp was not a fall from grace, by the time they were founded (1996), rubber domes had long since taken over and IBM had long been relegated to just another pc manufacturer due to their own bad decisions and corporate red tape. Their decline can easily be traced back to a time before foreign manufacturing was of significant impact, in fact in the late 70's they were almost the poster child for corporate red tape.
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Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 03 February 2018, 06:56:10 »
Maybe from someone touch-typing on it for years (decades?) and resting/rubbing their fingers against the home keys hundreds of times every day.
Yes, i was thinking that at first too. And it may still be true. However the seller claimed that the 1999 keeb was hardly in use, he is geman so i am going to believe.  ;D
Also, the <5> Num key is exhibiting this smoothish surface too. What are the odds that the previous user(s) of the keeb did hardcore Num-ing to wear down just the <5> by touch-typing? Possible, yes. Probable, maybe not. That's why I've been wondering and asking here.

And even if you guys don't have smooth <F><J><5> keys, it could still be true that in 1999 the IBM UK factory released the keycaps as observed (1080p):


Offline Deefenestrate

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 04 February 2018, 09:28:49 »
Oooh, that Industrial Model M  :eek:

Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 24 February 2018, 14:21:55 »
After 4.0 months i finally got the "ibm driver" (tags: 5.5mm, hex, nut, key, wrench, driver, screwdriver) in the mail hooray! It is the cheapest build on the market, branded Penggong Tools. You can find Penggong stuffz on GB/BG/DX/FT/AX/ebay/amazon, i got mine for 1.5US$ shipped from AX thru ChinaPost incl origin country tracking:


People on the internet said that the correct size would be "5.5mm". And while it is true that the nut size is exactly 5.50mm —i checked it with my digital calipers—, the actual size of the 5.5mm Penggong driver is 5.7mm, which means that the driver is notably bigger than the nut:


A driver with play is no good and will eventually *uck up the nut. So i inserted some duct tape in the driver to eliminate the play. Works like a charm:


I believe that my unit is special because it is a 1999 Model M and manufactured by IBM, not by Lexmark, Maxi Switch, or Unicomp. This has to be the latest original IBM production unit documented on the internet, and mine came with German layout (ISO), non-detachable PS/2 cord, drainage channels, detachable double keycaps, IBM blue logo.

The inside of the bottom plastic features the drainage holes, and one can see that the plastic mould got revised to cover up the loudspeaker grille:


There isn't much to see on the flip side… :


…well, except for the model sticker:


So there you have it. Mine is an original IBM 1999 model M!! :p
The inside of the top plastic features some numbers i have no idea maybe showing that the plastic itself was manufactured before 1999:


The weight of the top plus bottom plastic is 818g total, aha. The total weight of the entire keeb including the non-detachable PS/2 cable is 2035g. These numbers are higher than the ones stated in the OP's video  :-* :


The rivets being 19yrs old at the time of writing are all intact, so no geeky bolt mod is needed :blank: :


Let's check the sticker next to the rivets, oic:


From my measurements i am deducting that the nominal thickness of the metal sheet is 0.90mm, not 1.00mm:


Last but not least a quick look at the electronics:


The small white sticker from the right side was about to come off, so i stuck it on the metal sheet:


I stored the keycaps overnight in a bath of hot water+dishwashing detergent (powder) and the cleaning result was fantastic, all without any manual scrubbing action! :cool: That's because, unlike soap, the dishwashing detergent has active ingredients which attack the dirt and dissolve it chemically. Also, very interesting to note, my keycaps have a non-square base profile, the clipping sides are concave, not straight. I am not sure if they were produced in this deformed shape intentionally, all i can tell is that these double keycaps clip very firmly onto the keys and can't get easily detached by hand/fingers at all! :eek: So I exploit this 'welcome feature' when vacuuming the keeb with high suction power, 1x or 2x per week; while the CherryMX keycaps on my other keebs would get sucked off by the vacuum cleaner, these ibm1999 keycaps don't. Loving it:


And finally the infamous "gap" between the top and bottom plastic. Yes there has to be a standard gray 'channel/furrow' with no flex or play. The question is whether your gray channel is uniform/regular/small and fully closed at its bottom, or has black gaps in it and exhibits play/flex. Both the 2017 Unicomp and the 1993 refurbished Blue Logo units have such black gaps (=holes!) in the gray channel because of warped plastic. On my unit the plastic is not warped and there are no gaps or black holes in the small gray channel. Perfect build quality:


Last but not least the sound of the space bar. Mine produces a non-rattling deep thud, unlike Rhinofeed's unit. This is hard to capture in photographic form though :rolleyes:
   
Btw right now i am typing on the ibm with no double keycaps and I am liking it! The non-textured surface makes them easier to clean/wipe off and there is no chance that dirt could build up on the surface. There is also more space between the keys, which should help typing accuracy, because it is harder to hit 2 keys with 1 finger accidentally at the same time. Interestingly, i wouldn't say that these smaller smooth keys are also more slippery for the finger tips than with the double keycaps on. From my impression, it is the very texture of the double keycaps which makes them rather slippery than not, or let's say that the texture doesn't really help with reducing the slipperiness of keycaps made out of PBT. In comparison, my finger tips experience the best grip on coated ABS keycaps, for example Razor keebs or Filco keebs. But i can testify that such keycaps wear off and shine up fast. PBT keycaps are more durable in every respect but they are also less grippy, no matter whether the keycap surface is textured or not.

Nobody asked for this post, i know. But as teen skater they called me poser. Now as geek i guess i still am. ;D

2018-05-01

2018-09-20
« Last Edit: Fri, 21 September 2018, 11:47:42 by leech »

Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 27 September 2019, 05:14:35 »
hmm.. maybe it is 8695 normal maybe not. i am noticing that the right <SHIFT>-key is slightly lower than the next key to its left. it is hardly noticeable and prolly it is normal and it doesn't bother me because my right pinky sits on it ergonomically. just wanted to share this observation, could someone else confirm?

having said that, the left <SHIFT>-key is on the same level as the next key to its right. they are all leveled the same. So the (surface) level of the right <SHIFT>-key does stand out no pun intended.

 ;D

Offline OtherBarry1992

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 09 February 2020, 04:10:17 »
Awesome Video!

Offline Iksion

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 10 February 2020, 10:04:57 »
Breaking length records yet again, I spent a LOT of time doing this one - hope you like it! :) I'll be on holiday for two weeks, so see you guys in three! ;)


It is always intersting to watch your videos and this one is extremely fine! Thanks!

Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 25 March 2020, 22:06:21 »
This and the Model F Video largely got me into keyboards, and I can never look back after my first purchase which was a Unicomp M5-2, and then a Unicomp M122, and then my favorite board: The F122.

Unicomp M122 - Unicomp Classic Trackball - IBM Model M13 - IBM Model F122 - IBM Model F Bigfoot - IBM Model F AT - Ducky Shine 3 Yellow

Offline AlexeiSayle

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 04 April 2020, 18:26:01 »
Definitely my original IBM Model M from many, many years ago. It has a PS/2 connector, and weirdly my motherboard does too, so there's no need for a USB converter. The Model M is basically the best keyboard ever made, with the perfect buckling spring and amazing weight and sweet brownish white color.

Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 08 April 2020, 15:35:35 »
Definitely my original IBM Model M from many, many years ago. It has a PS/2 connector, and weirdly my motherboard does too, so there's no need for a USB converter. The Model M is basically the best keyboard ever made, with the perfect buckling spring and amazing weight and sweet brownish white color.

And the build quality to last through a war, or several. I'm always amazed at how well they clean up, and how long they last.

Unicomp M122 - Unicomp Classic Trackball - IBM Model M13 - IBM Model F122 - IBM Model F Bigfoot - IBM Model F AT - Ducky Shine 3 Yellow

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 08 April 2020, 16:10:56 »

the perfect buckling spring


Model Fs have much nicer action, that is universally acknowledged. And they are almost double the weight.
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Offline Maledicted

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 08 April 2020, 16:48:47 »

the perfect buckling spring


Model Fs have much nicer action, that is universally acknowledged. And they are almost double the weight.

Agreed 100%. I didn't even like the feel of membrane buckling spring. I reverted back to Cherry MX blues when I first felt them. I do still plan to bolt mod at least one eventually to give it a more than fair shake though. I imagine it won't make a huge difference since I got my first M from an M fanatic that had almost every variant under the sun, and had bolt modded at least one himself. I felt almost all of them, although that was brief.

Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 03:52:06 »
Now that i've been typing hardcore for 18560 hours weeks months (i am a user not a collector like you guys :p ) I noticed that the right Shift-key kinda *ucks.

If i hit it at the right part (that's where the spring is underneath), then all fine.
But when i hit it center or to the left part, the key only slowly returns back to unpressed position. Slowly enough that i type two capital (sometimes even three or four, when very fast typing) letters instead of just 1.

I am too busy with typing that i havent disassembled it (maybe some superlube will fix it?) yet .. last year i didnt do the deep cleaning either.

Anyway, is this a known/common problem with the right shift key?

I can surely live with it, and i will apply some superlube soon, and for sure i wouldnt retire this 1999 board only because of a poor Shift key. i can learn to press it to the extreme right when typing fast, np. Just wanted to share this report. Please let us know if i am not alone with this problemito.

Cheers everyone. i have three or four, cant even remember, modern mechanical keebs (blue switches, i like clicky soundy) stored nearby and i could just switch to them .. but the IBM is pretty much my favorite among them all.
« Last Edit: Fri, 26 February 2021, 13:31:39 by leech »

Offline Maledicted

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 09:53:22 »
Now that i've been typing hardcore for 18560 hours weeks months (i am a user not a collector like you guys :p ) I noticed that the right Shift-key kinda *ucks.

If i hit it at the right part (that's where the spring is underneath), then all fine.
But when i hit it center or to the left part, the key only slowly returns back to unpressed position. Slowly enough that i type two capital (sometimes even three or four, when very fast typing) letters instead of just 1.

I am too busy with typing that i havent disassembled it (maybe some superlube will fix it?) yet .. last year i didnt do the deep cleaning either.

Anyway, is this a known/common problem with the right shift key?

I can surely live with it, and i will apply some superlube soon, and for sure i wouldnt retire this 1999 board only because of a poor Shift key. i can learn to press it to the extreme right when typing fast, np. Just wanted to share this report. Please let us know if i am not alone with this problemito.

Cheers everyone. i have three or four, cant even remember, modern mechanical keebs (blue switches, i like clicky soundy) stored nearby and i could just switch to them .. but the IBM is pretty much my favorite among them all.

I don't have a lot of time with typing on Model Ms. I haven't had a similar problem with any of my Model Fs. This post might help. It makes sense to me.

Offline funkmon

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 21:39:33 »
Now that i've been typing hardcore for 18560 hours weeks months (i am a user not a collector like you guys :p ) I noticed that the right Shift-key kinda *ucks.

If i hit it at the right part (that's where the spring is underneath), then all fine.
But when i hit it center or to the left part, the key only slowly returns back to unpressed position. Slowly enough that i type two capital (sometimes even three or four, when very fast typing) letters instead of just 1.

I am too busy with typing that i havent disassembled it (maybe some superlube will fix it?) yet .. last year i didnt do the deep cleaning either.

Anyway, is this a known/common problem with the right shift key?

I can surely live with it, and i will apply some superlube soon, and for sure i wouldnt retire this 1999 board only because of a poor Shift key. i can learn to press it to the extreme right when typing fast, np. Just wanted to share this report. Please let us know if i am not alone with this problemito.

Cheers everyone. i have three or four, cant even remember, modern mechanical keebs (blue switches, i like clicky soundy) stored nearby and i could just switch to them .. but the IBM is pretty much my favorite among them all.

Okay this happens sometimes and it's usually either gunk in the stabilizer hole or, and I think it's the or in this case since you're likely taking care of it, the stabilizer has come off center. Take off the key and take out the stabilizer, look at it to make sure it's clean, and then reinsert the stabilizer. See if that fixes it. Let us know.

Offline leech

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Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 13 February 2021, 04:59:40 »
@Maledicted
great link, thanks for it! It is great to have the link in this review thread, so that surfers can find it more easily.

@funkmon
Thanks also for your post. I booted my pc and was about to start my morning work session (typing, coding) but then thought i'd check this thread first .. and i was glad that you guys posted something. Your timely advice encouraged me. I had to close the morning session (all my browser tabs and the huge Mathematica application), shut down the PC but i wanted to give a shot. Point being, i dont have the key cap removal tools at arm's length and it is a hassle to get them out of storage (and find them tucked away haha). But i did go through it. Got a pair of removal tools and took off some caps and keys (photo uploaded dedicated to you two):



The green thing is firmly inserted, i couldn't take it out (for what). Apart from the spring, nothing seemed offcenter. Also no gunk. I tried to turn the spring with tweezers (and i think i managed to rotate it a bit) but i knew that i'd be in trouble if the spring came off. No, the spring wasn't the primary issue of the key sticking.

So i applied some original Liquid Superlube (shipped from the US to gemani thx ebay, ouch costly) into the Shift key (not the green hole). Thats all i could really do. Put the key back on (there is no cap for the Shift key) and ... tarahh the Shift key works "just fine", no more DOuble CApital LEtters at the beginning of GEman NOuns ;) (all geman nouns start with a capital letter unlike engrish nouns)

This made my day! You guys made my day.

I am very thankful. Thanks for the help, highly appreciated.

I knew that one day, even without your posts, i would have taken off the key/cap and examined the situation (offcenter, gunk, loose, bonedry) myself. But it was with your posts that i felt encouraged to do it today, now, even by closing my started morning session.
The PC is restarted, obviously, and i am happy to continue with my day. Lots of typing, coding, calculating ahead. I am gonna enjoy the work at the PC, thanks to the very fixed Shift-key. (if i doht "hit" as in normal typing behaviour but just slowly/gently press it down at the very left side, then i can make the key tilt and stick. something which i cannot do with the Backspace key, for example. But i am not concerned by that. with normal usage/behavior i consider the Shift key fixed, thank you again!!)

To cut the whole story short: a bit of lube did all the trick, for me.

Offline funkmon

  • Posts: 422
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #26 on: Tue, 16 February 2021, 00:38:44 »
Hey thanks for the update. Your post actually inspired me. I've always been of the opinion that lube does NOTHING and if there's sticking, it's some kind of a mechanical problem that the lube won't fix. I'm glad to know that it actually does stuff for some people! Haha! Great man! Enjoy many more years of Model Ms. Also visit the modelm subreddit if you're a redditor. Tons of guys there who like em.

Offline leech

  • Posts: 82
  • Location: gemani
  • …always on the lookout for higher quality…
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 16 February 2021, 01:49:54 »
Thanks for the feedback on my report. Ah, model missus, now i get it haha.  ;D
I shall check out that subreddit someday, no hurries though. I do like modern mechanical keebs and i would not hesitate to return to them. As i am counting, i seem to own only 3 not 4 (Everglide, Ajazz, Leopold), they're beauties, also missuses  :))
If my IBM really gives up life one day, then i'll re-welcome the modern mechies.

For now i am just too busy to spend all my free time into typing/working and making full use of the keeb. no time or interest for watching youtube reviews. And i enjoy the work everyday .. because of the nice quality keyboard. VERY important part of enjoying the working hours. THE other important part is lighting. I take best care of that aspect, e.g. through personal lighting.

Cheers everyone, may 2021 be a great one!!

Offline Maledicted

  • Posts: 1698
  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: IBM Model M review (buckling springs)
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 16 February 2021, 08:36:31 »
If my IBM really gives up life one day, then i'll re-welcome the modern mechies.

You may be stuck with that Model M for many decades then. Enjoy.

Cheers everyone, may 2021 be a great one!!

I have my doubts, but we can hope.