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The world's best keyboard, and why it's so great

Why IBM's 24-year-old Model M has staying power

From the satisfying click of its keys to its no-nonsense layout and solid steel underpinnings, IBM's 24-year-old Model M is the standard by which all other keyboards must be judged.

IBM's 1984 Model M keyboard was created following scathing criticism of the layout of the keyboard on the 5150 PC which was released in 1981.

The 101-key design subsequently became the benchmark for all keyboards. We've taken a look at this icon to see just why it's so popular.

Meet the Model M

This is my keyboard. It's just a few months shy of 22 years old, and I use it every day. The first thing that may strike you about the Model M is the layout: it's so normal. There's no pesky 'Windows' key here; nor are there buttons to turn your computer off, play a CD, or start your car. Just the basics, as IBM defined them 24 years ago.

Some would say its only flaw is the prominent placement of the Caps Lock key (in lieu of 'control' on earlier keyboards). But it's a minor error compared with the modern keyboard's multitude of sins.

NEXT PAGE: Beneath the keycaps

  1. We investigate just what's made IBM's Model M so successful
  2. Beneath the keycaps
  3. Sturdy, retractable feet help create a design strong enough for 22 years of service
  4. Under the hood
  5. The importance of a durable design
  6. The Hitachi 6805 microprocessor
  7. A pale imitation
  8. Hardly bulletproof


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