a type 1391406 Model M manufactured in the UK in 1989. This
is the UK variant of the "International" keyboard layout—the
international Model M has an L-shaped enter key with an extra key
nestling in it's crook, so it's 102 keys total.
My M is an old-school board made in Scotland by IBM United Kingdom, there are later model 1391406 keyboards made by Lexmark which have a blue IBM logo and fixed keyboard lead, these were made from 1993 onwards. They are not as nicely made as the IBM-manufactured ones. I understand 1391406s are comparatively rare in the USA, where you are more likely to see the good ol' models 1391401 or 42H1292. Consider yourself elite if you can find an M with the 12' keyboard cord.
|UK 102-key layout: large enter key, £ shares a key with 3, ' shares with @, and ~ with # (links to a larger version).|
|"Birth certificate"—Model M type 1391406, made in Scotland in 1989 and still going strong.||Rear view. The grille is vestigal, and on a Model M variant shipping with IBM's RS/6000 workstation housed a speaker (thanks to Eric S. Raymond for confirming this after many years of uncertainty) (links to a larger version).|
|Removable PS/2 keyboard cord for ninja mobile Model M swapping.||Battle damage. What happened? Someone dropped it, or maybe a stressed office worker finally had enough and went on the rampage with their trusty keyboard...|
|Pictures link to zoomed-in versions (large!).|
keycaps come in two parts, so just pop off the top halves of the
keys with your fingers—you shouldn't need to use a knife to pry
them off. This exposes the smaller keys you can see in the
pictures above and to the right. I suggest leaving these on
and cleaning around them, best to minimise the exposure of the
bucking-spring innards to dirt.
Take care removing the larger keys (shift, space bar etc.) as they don't have the same small inner keys. Some other guides to Model M cleaning recommend leaving the Caps Lock key in place as it's apparently easy to break while removing. I popped the Caps Lock off with my fingers without breaking it, so…
|Picture links to a larger version.|
|Picture links to a larger version.|
Now you have your parts. I put the keycaps in to soak in hot, soapy water in the sink while I dealt with the M's main board. First give it the once-over with air duster, then wipe with a soft, damp cloth to remove the worst of the dirt. I used dampened cotton buds to clean in between the keys, then went at the really stubborn dirt with a cotton bud and a little isopropyl alcohol.
Meanwhile, back to the keys. My keys had some horrible ingrained grime, so I had to scrub each one individually to get it all off. It took forever, but those keys practically shone afterward. When you've done this, scrub the two halves of the shell of the keyboard in hot, soapy water. Be careful with the label on the back of the M—this is it's "birth certificate" and something buyers should look for if you ever want to sell your board. If you are really worried, get a bit of plastic and duct tape it over the label to keep it dry.
Leave your keys and halves of the shell to dry on newspaper (finally, I find a use for the Grauniad travel section), and do something useful with the time. Maybe start that Web page about your keyboard?
Reassemble in reverse order.
|All clean! (Links to a larger version.)|
|By now you have a nice, clean Model M restored to pristine condition—stop a minute to admire your handywork. :) Sadly I wasn't able to get all of the dirt out from around the edges of the IBM logo, and it doesn't seem to be removeable. Any suggestions? With occasional cleaning, and barring lump-hammer attack, a Model M will last decades. in fact the only addition I see being useful in years to come is a dongle to convert a Model M to USB, for when all motherboards have gone 'legacy free' (feh). I'm sure you've been waiting for this bit, so onwards to the cheesecake photos of the clean M:|
|These pictures link to larger versions|
|The Compleat Classic Keyboard||Technical information and troubleshooting guide from Eric S. Raymond|
|clickeykeyboards.com||New and used Model M buyer's guide, some nice general info. (Wayback Machine link)|
||New keyboards made to a similar specification and same keyboard feel as the Model M.|
|modelm.org||Some wonderful stuff about Model M modification (Wayback Machine link).|
|PS/2 Keyboard||A wealth of information about the Model M (Wayback Machine link).|
|Converting an M to Dvorak layout||The Model M is curved,
but that's achieved by the metal plate the keys sit on being
curved. The keycaps themselves are all the same and can be
swapped about at will.
|Dan's Data Model M review|
|Dan's Data Model M review II||An updated review,
covers several Model M variants.
|Model M USB upgrade||Solder on a
PS/2 to USB adaptor at the keyboard end, and you have Ico
Doornekamp's 'almost native' USB Model M (Wayback Machine link). Note: do not do this to a vintage Model M in 2022, instead buy a 'New Model M' from Unicomp.
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|Copyright © 2004-2022 by Andrew Preater|
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