let me address something right off the bat before i get into things. you may notice that there are no capitalizations in this post, and there’s a reason for that. just bear with me, and you’ll find out why soon enough.

after writing my post about keyboards, i soon became a man on a mission. i was obsessed with discovering more about these crazy “clickity-clack” keyboards; could they really improve my typing skills and minimize problems with rsi? i had to know. i just didn’t want to waste the money if i didn’t have to.

there were a few keyboards that i was interested in: the das keyboard, the apple extended keyboard (either the original or the second version) and the matias tactile pro. since both the das and the matias run between $130 and $150, that seemed a little bit stiff for my little experiment. maybe i could find a used apple keyboard online somewhere.

i haven’t used ebay a whole ton in the past few years, but since craigslist didn’t have anything of note in the way of keyboards, i decided to hit the online auction site to see what i could find. after searching through piles of yellowed plasticy messes, i found an apple extended keyboard ii model m3501 for stupid cheap — like $10 — and scooped it up. i couldn’t wait to get my new keyboard and see how it worked.

what i didn’t realize until after the sale had gone through though, was that the keyboard i purchased didn’t come with the required adb cable to make the whole thing happen. no problem, a quick tenner spent at amazon took care of that, but then i remembered that i needed a way to get from adb to usb on my mac. shit. down went another
$20 out of my wallet, bringing the grand total up around $50. this experiment was getting expensive.

i got the adapter and cable pretty quickly, and then waited for my keyboard to arrive. anxiously i checked the tracking number again and again, hoping that soon it would arrive on my doorstep. it came this past tuesday, and i couldn’t wait to hook it up.

making the connection was a breeze, which shocked me a bit considering i was using an adapter from the mid 1990s and a cable made for a product of the same era, but sure enough, everything worked. plus, the keyboard itself was in better shape than i thought. it was nowhere near as yellowed as it looked in the pictures, just a bit down by the base. this might not be too bad.

and then i started typing, producing clickity-clack after clickity-clack, happily stirring up a din in my office. but wait — something was wrong. why were my sentences all starting in lowercase? what happened to the shift key?

well, that’s the real bummer of the whole situation. the left shift key doesn’t work, and i’m not really sure why. i popped off the key to look and see if there was any kind of obstruction and there wasn’t, and even after opening up the case i found no sign of anything that could’ve screwed up the key other than overuse. i tried using just the right key, but thirty years of typing has taught me to rely on that left shift key, and without it, the keyboard might as well be a big paperweight. bummer.

you’ve probably already guessed this by now, but i’m using the keyboard to write this post. it is enjoyable to hear the keyboard click and clack with every hit, something i made fun of other people for commenting on, but it is quite satisfying in a weird way. of course, without that left shift key i obviously can’t use this for my keyboard every day, but it does give me an idea of what it would be like to have one for my daily use. out of the three options, i think this one might be my favorite purely because of the aesthetic. the das keyboard just looks horrible to me, particularly with their font choice. the matias seems really cool (and it uses the same switches as the aeii model), but i’ve heard mixed reviews on the product itself so i can’t quite see myself plunking down $150 just to ship it back a week or so later. that’s the really disappointing part.

so i’m left with the apple extended keyboard ii, but of course, that also means that i have to find a new one. and i do mean “new,” which, believe it or not, is possible. there are people out there who have brand new keyboards wrapped in the box ready to go. unfortunately, they usually understand what it’s worth, and the price goes up accordingly. i’ve bid on two of them on ebay recently, and one i lost and it sold for $300, the other is currently at $276.88 with 16 hours to go. that’s a bit rich for my blood right now.

it’s unfortunate that this one doesn’t work the way i need it to, because i’ve found a cleaning process that helps to remove the yellowing from the plastic, which means that this thing could look brand new with a few hours of work. i think that having an apple keyboard, no matter how old, in front of my other mac products really does seem appropriate, even if it has a bit of an old-school flair. i just wish it worked.

so for now, i’m going to pack up the old keyboard and call it a learning experience. maybe i’ll find a new-in-box model sometime soon for a price i can afford, but until then, i’ll just continue using my apple wireless keyboard. it may not make that clickity-clack that’s so appealing, but it works just fine and that’s the important part.