Midnight Pub

An affordance


A first attempt at forcing myself to write, I hope it takes. Having been locked inside for a year (like everyone else) I need a new hobby. One can only draw so many erotic snorlaxes before you have to accept it’s time to move on.

I own the best keyboard in the world—an IBM Model F one to be precise. I bought it cheap off eBay caked in its previous owner’s blood for about 100 quid. I will leave it to my kid in the same condition I’m sure. Every year I disassemble it and clean it springs and all, in a desperate attempt to eek out more life from it and as a pseudo-meditative exercise.

I could wax lyrical about its keys, the way it feels under my fingers kerchunking down solidly and satisfyingly, how I converted it to Dvorak, the clackety clack that has been described as machine gun fire by my partner, the air raid attack by colleagues on zoom, and can be heard on the other side of the house. I could talk about the inspection sticker declaring it to be slightly older than me and signed by the engineers that built it. I could mention it’s annoyances—no real arrow keys and a weird num lock system to access page up and down, a caps lock rebound to the command key. The odd yet strangely appealing 10 function keys on the side and weird meta-key shapes humped in the middle. I could contrast it to a cherry keyboard (greens FTW, but poor in comparison to the mighty buckling springs), or a ducky or Planck lit up in gaudy rainbow lights. Paltry Model Ms need not apply, the grown up king of them all is here in its steel and thick heavy plastic glory.

Yet all this isn’t why this keyboard is the best. The reason it is the best is a small ridge of plastic along the top of the keys. I put my pen there. Or my keys. Or a pen drive I’m working on. Often a hue light switch perches there ready for when it gets dark, or a pen knife for when it isn’t. I haven’t seen this feature on any other keyboard and I don’t understand why not. Sure I could get a pen pot and have roughly the same effect, but I’d have to reach for it. A little tray maybe for things I’m working with... but why bother? This was a keyboard designed for people who kept a notebook so of course you need a pen rest. And it is glorious. Modern reproductions skip it and it seems insane... that little bar is what makes this keyboard perfect. Why doesn’t any other keyboard have one?

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~commgeek wrote:

I have a tub, maybe two, of IBM Model M’ish (don’t know the exact model numbers) but they’re the ones with the function keys on the top, not the side.

They weren’t terribly useful as I had transitioned to Macs and the Mac USB wouldn’t handle the simple PS/2 to USB adapters that were common. I finally found an adapter that worked, at of all places, Radio Shack. I went back and bought like six.

I quickly learned to have a membrane keyboard also plugged in to switch to when needed as I had the same experience with my wife complaining about “the teletype”.

~edisondotme wrote:

I like my external Lenovo keyboard for having that little pen slot. I agree that it's a shame that it is not more common. Though I also find it funny that I more frequently need an analog writing tool when I am in front of a digital computer versus anywhere else. It's like having a horse carriage with an AUX port.

~rosie88 wrote (thread):

"I hope you were joking about the blood." I say with peaked curiosity.

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