Retro day

What do I need on a rather slow Wednesday? How about a surprising dose of retro geekery?

Datormagazin retro Datormagazin retro

The quick thing first: this is Datormagazin retro - a magazine all about retro computing, the result of a Kickstarter I backed and edited by my friend Joacim Melin.

But there is one more thing …

A big thing.

Apple extended keyboard II Apple extended keyboard II

This is an Apple extended keyboard II, one of the battleship-type legendary keyboards. The model M of the Apple world.

Apple extended keyboard II compared to Logitech K811 Apple extended keyboard II compared to Logitech K811

Yes, it is a big step up from my K811. And even more of a step to the left, as you can tell.

I realize I have had one of these before, it came along with dad's LC II. But I clearly did not remember much about it. First odd thing I noticed: the little nubs to help align your hands are on D and K, rather than F and J.

The size throws my positioning off sometimes. Not much on the letter keys, but it definitely happens more toward the edges. Above all, the escape and function key row is surprisingly far away. As any pointing device suddenly gets pushed off to the side, I wonder how overall desk ergonomy is affected in the long run by a larger keyboard. Just another incentive to learn more keyboard shortcuts and navigation?

The feel and sound

The feel is very different from what I remember of the model M, softer yet distinct. Possibly a bit more quiet too. Different keys feel and sound a bit different, perhaps from natural wear, and, in stark contrast to the model M, each press produces one click rather than two. It also feels somewhat softer, I am pretty sure the keys here need less force to push down. They also feel slightly less distinct, which feels odd to type when they are still miles above most other keyboards. You know when you have pressed a key properly on a keyboard like this, because key travel is about two hundred meters. But on the model M you also had to punch through a layer of rock on the way down. Okay, enough.

One thing is very similar to the model M though: with a keyboard of this heft, you feel as if every keypress is somewhat more important. Not quite at the level of punching activation codes into the Death star, but there definitely is the air of being in the magician's position. Not everyone gets the opportunity to bend the mystical machines to their will, but those who do work their magic using serious tools. This must be the first time someone came even close to comparing this keyboard to a magic wand …

Connecting it up

Recognize this kind of connection for a keyboard?

ADB port ADB port

This keboard expects to talk to a computer over Apple's ADB, a standard for which no computer has been built since approximately forever. The keyboard also happened to come without a cable, but that is the smaller problem. Turns out ADB cables are also S-video cables. That is kind of a dying thing in itself, but in no way as dying as everything else in this situation. A quick trip to the nearest Clas Ohlson put that out of the way. The serious challenge is getting between the end of the cable and to the USB port of a computer. Some people have built interfaces themselves, but there only seems to have been about one professionally made solution out there: Griffin's Imate ADB to USB interface. I am not sure when it stopped production, but it was not yesterday.

Griffin Imate Griffin Imate

Fear not, Ebay to the rescue! Because this adapter was my greatest worry, I ordered and got it well in advance of the actual keyboard, and it sat around on a nearby shelf, teasing a day soon to come.

I meant to finish this text on my laptop, sit or even lie down and relax a bit after standing here for hours of podcast editing and writing.

I just have a slightly hard time walking away from this keyboard right now.

Apple extended keyboard II closeup Apple extended keyboard II closeup