M122 Keyboard transparent

I love the IBM Model M.

The Mighty Model M 122 Key Terminal Keyboard, this is the keyboard of the gods. Zeus uses one to update his blog, and post pictures of his cat.

Just about the only piece of computing hardware from the 1980s that is still useful on a daily basis. (in-fact I am using one right now to tap this out)

The layout of this keyboard is still used today, and the same basic keyboard is still in production today; just under a different name. I have several of these lying about from old 286 PS/2 systems, and I have been doing some updates and modifications to a few of them. The terminal Keyboards are all getting updated to USB 2.0 using Soarers converter (an ATMEL MEGA32U4 based converter that can act as a USB HID device), I have converted 3 of them so far, and you can read about my conversion service here: IBM Model M Keyboard

There are lots of different things that people have done to these tough buggers over the years; from simply dying the keys black and painting the case, to this guy who built Pen-Testing tools into his, to this project where Bluetooth was added.

I have pulled one apart and tested to see if I could stuff a Raspberry Pi into mine, (and it does fit with a little modification) but that would just be a case of doing it because ‘I can do it’ not because of any real need. The most useful modification I can think of would be to change the logic board over to a native USB host and hub, to give me a few extra ports along the side. I would want to preserve the removable cord by integrating a female USB B connection at the rear where the old cable went.

This got me to thinking about perhaps adding a keyed switch to the upper right of the keyboard and integrating a key-logger on the PCB which would allow me to selectively record my keystrokes. That way I could keep a backup of my writing in plain-text automatically, and besides, who wouldn’t love to have a key lock-switch on their keyboard. I know I would, and it would give me an excuse to use that fancy key lock I bought last month. 🙂

Since there would be a USB hub inside it also might be useful to add a flash drive inside to always have a data storage locker on the keyboard.

I also thought about cutting the panel out where the 3 LEDS are for the num-lock, caps-lock and scroll lock are, and put a small back-lit lcd there and interface it with a small micro-controller to show those functions and also perhaps show the current track playing, the time, or something like that.  I even thought about taking the Raspberry Pi idea, and interfacing a 3 or 4 inch touch screen right there to control the Pi….. There are lots of possibilities to explore.


This is a variant of an older post, it is preserved here to keep what I had intended for my project Model M originally. You can read more about my hacks and projects with the M keyboards here.