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This 10-Pound Keyboard From The 1980s Is Making A Comeback

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This 10-Pound Keyboard From The 1980s Is Making A Comeback

This 10-Pound Keyboard From The 1980s Is Making A Comeback

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(SOUNDBITE OF KEYBOARD CLACKING)

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

This sound comes from the past. A trained ear would be able to tell you it's coming from the IBM Model F keyboard.

JOE STRANDBERG: It's definitely the sound of the 1980s office. Like, if your boss was near and they could hear you typing away they would know you were being productive.

(SOUNDBITE OF KEYBOARD CLACKING)

MCEVERS: That's Joe Strandberg of Garden City, N.Y. He's one of many computer collectors who have a lot of feelings about the Model F keyboard.

STRANDBERG: I think that it's the best keyboard ever because it has a delicate yet incredibly tactile response that makes typing a pure pleasure. It's got this sound. You've got two huge pieces of steel. You have some flippers slapping and resonating between two metal sandwich layers inside. It's kind of a musical interaction when you're typing.

(SOUNDBITE OF KEYBOARD CLACKING)

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

IBM stopped making the Model F in the mid-'90s, so they're hard to find. You have to troll thrift shops or eBay. And if you happen to find one, it's not very easy to get it to work with a modern computer.

MCEVERS: So Joe Strandberg decided to remanufacture the Model F. When he learned someone in New Zealand had invented a controller that could make the Model F more easily compatible with new machines, he had an idea.

STRANDBERG: That kind of inspired me to think, hey, we can make these great old keyboards and get them in the hands of people where they can just plug it in and start using it. They don't have to spend hours cleaning it up and reconfiguring it and reprogramming it. They can kind of just open up the box and start using it.

MCEVERS: Strandberg dismantled the Model F and redrew the designs. Then he found a factory in China to make it. Luckily, IBM's patent has expired.

SHAPIRO: Strandberg set up a website, and he has received hundreds of orders already. He's not quitting his day job, though. This will be a limited run.

STRANDBERG: This is kind of like a night and weekend hobby. It's kind of turned into something beyond what I would have ever dreamed.

MCEVERS: It's not cheap. It costs more than $300. But Strandberg says this is a piece of equipment built to last, and one that IBM spent millions to develop.

SHAPIRO: The original price tag for the Model F was $600 adjusted for inflation. Hey, if you want the Cadillac of keyboards, you've got to be ready to pay a Cadillac price.

(SOUNDBITE OF KEYBOARD CLACKING)

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