The New Unicomp IBM Model M

I've had my IBM Model M for over 10 years (even though it predates me) and it's been a staple in my computing. Nothing has been more of a staple and a constant in my life than that keyboard.

Unfortunately the left shift key pivot key became loose, and thus the left shift became unreliable. After looking at finding replacement parts, the one place that sells the part...also sells brand new Model M's. Killing two birds with one stone and I just ordered the Unicomp IBM Model M

Coming from the 139041 model, I gained a Window key (Tux key as you can see) and opted for the larger spacebar.

New IBM Model M

Does it feel the same? Pretty much, I find the keys to be a bit more stiff but perhaps they need a breaking in period. USB is a great upgrade, but I've been functioning just fine with a PS/2 converter (blue dongle in the picture). I find it is slightly lighter in weight than the IBM Model M, I believe some parts were replaced with plastic versus metal, making this less lethal if war were to suddenly break out and you chose your keyboard as your first line of defence.
I will say that the buckling spring keyboards are not for everyone. This one is large and extremely loud. I have to mute myself on conference calls if I want to type without pissing everyone off on the call. Does it make me feel superior? Hell yeah it does.

Looking over my blog posts from ten years back, I posted about a IBM Model F I owned. Tragically, I lost it when moving and it hasn't seen since. At the time I purchased it for $48 USD in 2013 (back when USD and CAD were near parity). The same keyboard has now doubled in price, nevermind the shipping price. I'm kicking myself in the pants for losing that treasured piece of keyboard history.

Getting a terminal IBM Model M to work with PS/2

 I recently bought another IBM Model M (1395660) on eBay the other day, not thinking that it is actually a terminal keyboard. I thought it has a detachable SDL cable like my current Model M (1391401). I was wrong. Turns out it has a non-removable RJ-45 plug instead, thus being a terminal keyboard. Well, aftering some researching, some were able to get it to work by using an ATMega. I was able to find a pinout of the RJ45 plug on the keyboard, and simply just wire it up to a PS/2 cable. Though apparently, the colour of wire for PS/2 is not standardized, which led to testing each pin to see what it does. I cannibalized an old Microsoft keyboard for the cable and was able to hook the wires up straight to each other.

PS/2 cable wires on a breadboard, original connector above.


For this specific PS/2 cable, the pinout is as follows:
IBM -> PS/2 Cable
black -> red         +5V 
red -> white         data 
yellow -> brown  clock
white -> black     ground 
The last wire (next to the white wire) on the breadboard is ground, which I have on the metal body of the keyboard. Thankfully everything mostly works. The "Print" key on the left hand side of the board is somehow F5 and the blank key above it is CTRL+F. Next step is a neat soldering job and it's good to go!

New hardware


So, I recently came into posession of an IBM Model M (1391401) and wow. This beats the hell out of my Logitech G15. A long with the keyboard, I thought I'd buy myself a new mouse while I was at it. Well, I ended up buying a Kensington Orbit with scroll ring.


The keyboard is amazing to type on. Though some may find it a bit loud, it's a pay off for the sheer coolness of it. I'm still getting used to my trackball and, as you can see, it has an extra wrist-rest attached to it.

I finally got the PowerEdge 6400 going. Turns out it was the RAM. It needs to have one entire bank to be filled, rather than two DIMMS. Debian Squeeze and even CentOS 5 didn't detect the RAID card so it couldn't see the disks at all. For the hell of it, I popped in Windows Server 2003 (as it only has a CD drive and no PXE) and what do you know: it sees the card. I installed Server 2003 and got VMware Server running on it. Although this setup is not lightweight, it does the job.