Behold! A story of discovery, adventure, greed and passion!
Back in August 2015 when I acquired a batch of keyboards from an old building, one of the reasons I picked up the entire lot was because I saw a Leading Edge DC-2014. I pulled a keycap and saw a blue Alps keyswitch staring back at me, and knew then that if I wanted to, I could recoup a good portion of the money I’d spent on the whole collection. It helped to convince me to carry through with the purchase.
Three problems I could see with the board, and why I thought I’d never use it personally. One was that it was a strange layout. Two was that it was an XT-protocol keyboard, so I would need a converter if I ever did want to use it on a modern computer. Three was that the connector had been snipped! Long ago, probably by the previous owner (now deceased). Hard to believe there was a point in time that the connector was worth more to someone than the keyboard.
The keyboard sat among others I hadn’t gotten around to refurbishing until March 2016, when I saw this on eBay:
That’s right, $475. Now, before I go further, I will state that the auction didn’t actually go through. Some jackass was “trolling” the prices up, for whatever reason. But at the time, myself and others were doing a double-take and thinking … “huh?” Had blue Alps hit some kind of “critical mass” so to speak? Was the craze for them going through the roof? Some people never did believe it. Others, including myself, weren’t so sure.
My line of thinking at the time was that I wasn’t going to use the keyboard anyway, so I might as well give it a quick surface cleaning and post it on eBay to recoup my investment for the lot of keyboards it came in. So I did just that- if I recall, the same day I saw the other auction go for $475. That was a Thursday.
Starting bid was $100, and there was almost immediately a bid for $102. People on Deskthority and Geekhack caught wind of it, and re-posted pictures from the eBay post, indicating how it looked to be in much better condition than the one that sold for $475. However, the missing connector had some scratching their heads.
The weekend came. I kept walking by the keyboard, which was sitting on the desk I do hobby electronics work on. As I would walk by, I couldn’t resist typing something quickly on it, or just pressing a few keys to hear the glorious Alps click.
This is not my first experience with blue Alps. I have an Omni Key/102 with blue Alps in it, however this board feels slightly different. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it exactly; perhaps it’s the keycap construction. Something very subtle going on.
On Saturday, doubt about selling the keyboard had crawled into my head.
Click, click, click. It was luring me with its sound, its feel.
This is where it gets stupid.
On Sunday morning, I ended the auction.
At the time I yanked the auction, I was still under the impression that it was worth $475. My “passion” (?) for the keyboard had outweighed my greed. Not only that, but in committing to keeping the keyboard, I actually had to spend more in order to get a converter that would enable it to even work!
This morning I soldered a connector back on and gave it the cleaning it deserved. I was quite pleased with how clean it was to begin with. These are pre-cleaning pictures.
It is a decision that I’m comfortable and happy with, particularly now that I’ve learned about the artificial price inflation of the other eBay auction. I was almost a sucker.
As for the layout, I don’t have near the mental block that I used to with it. I probably still wouldn’t use it for programming work, because I really depend on a standard layout to be efficient. But for regular typing (like this), I have no problems with it whatsoever. The initiation to working satisfactorily with non-standard layouts was from Frieda, my IBM Model F. After typing on that, I’d lost the apprehension I once had for layout weirdness.
Looks to be from January 26th, 1987? 1989? It weighs 3lb, 4.6oz without the weight of the cord (weight without the cord since it is now quite a bit longer).
In some respects, this keyboard was a tool to help me learn a thing or two about myself. My wife would probably state that those lessons involved hoarding and poor money decisions. I would have to rather state that I learned more about passion trumping financial gain.
A joy to type on.