Oki-Wan

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Back in October, I’d read on Deskthority about a guy that found an old Kaypro mechanical keyboard manufactured by Oki, in his grandmother’s basement.  He fixed it up and described it in enough detail to make me very curious about the spring mechanisms, which are called Oki Tactile Gourd Spring.  Naturally I had to get one and try it out myself.

My initial impression was not favorable, but honestly I didn’t give it enough of a chance until recently.  I slipped it ahead of some other keyboards in the fix-up/cleaning queue, and am quite enjoying it.

This is an Oki HMB-35957U-22, manufactured in February 1990.  The key feel is certainly different than anything else I’ve experienced.  The activation force appears to be about 50g (nickel method), so it is rather light.  This is a clicky keyboard, and the click is unlike any other keyboard I’ve experienced so far.  It is not an extremely crisp, distinct click such as you would find from an IBM model M or F, but rather a slight ping.  The ping does seem to be more pronounced on lesser-used keys (the arrow cluster in particular), so I have the impression that this keyboard has seen quite a bit of use.

Before realizing that I should have taken the front bezel off before the keycaps, I was faced with a hoard of loose springs facing me.  Not trusting myself to not do something stupid, I had to give myself a reminder.

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Quite an interesting mechanism; a spring against a membrane.

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The keycaps are slightly different in shape and feel to any of my other keyboards, and the lightness of the switches makes this unique and fun.

It’s now in the rotation.

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