Strange Apple II keyboard types

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Strange Apple II keyboard types

Edward Harro Walsh documented on his website (currently suspended) some very bizarre keyboard switches reportedly found in Apple II computers. The only switch type depicted with photographs was the Alps type¹ — all the rest were shown with diagrams. The keyswitch types used in Apple II computers are fairly well understood: Datanetics DC-50, Alps KBB¹, ITT snap-action array (possibly Datanetics DC-70), SMK J-M0404 series, Mitsumi KAM, Apple hairpin spring and Alps KCM.

¹ normally KCC at this point in time, but inexplicably referred to as “KBB” by Apple in their bill of materials

What Edward depicted bore no resemblance to anything I’ve ever seen in an Apple keyboard, and his site offered no clear information or references (no suggestion of what models had these keyboards, and where he came across this information), and no way to contact him. In fact, none of the designs looked like anything I have ever seen in any keyboard, from any manufacturer anywhere in the world. Even the bill of materials offers no suggestion of anything else existing. (The illustration showing KBB is a scan of a poor-quality photocopy, so I cannot be sure what those are, but they should be KCC, which is what we know was used.)

Where are all these strange Apple II computers with non-standard keyboards?

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Any ideas?

Any ideas?

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Without seeing images of them

The only place I have seen KBB is anecdotal, and as I understand things,  it is for the SKCC switches. Perhaps there was an earlier iteration. I do have a ][+ with Alps style switches. I suppose I could pull and check one of those once I clean it. It is in extremely rough shape.  That KB is next on my list to remove and clean. If the switches are in fact unusual, then it may not be possible to repair, but it could be a rare opportunity to document it. 

 

It is probably an internal part ID that slipped, or an earlier revision of the Alps switch that Alps never used as a designation. My pure guess is that it meant keyboard style B, to separate it from the Datanetics models, as style A. 

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Sadly the illustration of all

Sadly the illustration of all the weird switch types, at the end of the page, was not archived:

http://web.archive.org/web/20200124140441/http://www.harrowalsh.de:80/APPLEBOX/APPLE2/appleboxkeypage.htm

The page does suggest that one of the types was foam pad capacitive, like the Lisa keyboard.

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Daniel Beardsmore wrote:
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: Sadly the illustration of all the weird switch types, at the end of the page, was not archived: [url]http://web.archive.org/web/20200124140441/http://www.harrowalsh.de:80/APPLEBOX/APPLE2/appleboxkeypage.htm[/url] The page does suggest that one of the types was foam pad capacitive, like the Lisa keyboard.
 
 

I will clean, examine, and photograph the KB that I have that I believe to have these switches,  this or next week, as soon as I have a chance to clean it. The ref to KBB is from the Apple II Level  Service docs, and again, I believe this refers to KB Model 'B', while Datanatics is Model 'A' and the later (e.g. blue pcb/RFI) is Model 'C'.

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Thanks.

Thanks.

Edward depicted four unknown keyboard types, in a very crude diagram. I didn’t recognise any of them. Sadly now the diagram is lost.

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Daniel Beardsmore wrote:
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: Thanks. Edward depicted four unknown keyboard types, in a very crude diagram. I didn’t recognise any of them. Sadly now the diagram is lost.
 
 

 This Diagram?

 

https://www.applefritter.com/files/2021/01/17/Keyswitches.pdf

 

 

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baldrick wrote:Daniel
baldrick wrote:
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: Thanks. Edward depicted four unknown keyboard types, in a very crude diagram. I didn’t recognise any of them. Sadly now the diagram is lost.
 
 

 This Diagram?

 

https://www.app

I believe that he means the diagram in the original Apple Service docs, for what Apple called 'KBB'.

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baldrick wrote:Daniel
baldrick wrote:
Daniel Beardsmore wrote: Thanks. Edward depicted four unknown keyboard types, in a very crude diagram. I didn’t recognise any of them. Sadly now the diagram is lost.
 
 

 This Diagram?

Thanks, that’s the one — it is on page 5 of the PDF, and depicts four weird switches. No. 1 is a foam-pad type, possibly capacitive but conceivably also conductive, but with an internal return spring, something I have never seen. Foam pad capactive switches (C. P. Clare, Cherry, Key Tronic, BTC etc) all had the return spring under the keycap … except whatever that one is.

It is claimed to be an Apple II keyboard, and if so, it must be a particularly rare type. I would not be surprised if it were KBB — I am having a fresh trawl though all of the アルプス電気 スイッチ patents on J-PlatPat for 1968–1982, to see if anything new has appeared since I checked originally. Alps keyboard switches from around 1980–1985 were grouped into KEx (elastic contact), KCx (complex contact assembly with metal foil contact) and KFx (plain sprung metal contacts). KBB falls outside of any of that, and foam pad would be a reasonable argument for what it might denote. Before around 1980, the series nomenclature is poorly understood, but the known forms are AKx (only seen in an early 70s ad) and SCx, where it seems SCH became KCC, and possibly SCK became KCA (just a guess). There are numerous patents for products yet to be seen.

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Pretty sure I have that

Pretty sure I have that diagram saved. Sadly I have no clue how to upload a pdf file here.

 

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Which diagram? The one

Which diagram? The one already found? It is also already archived here:

https://www.applefritter.com/appleii-box/D03_1_AppleIIKeyswitchesKeyboardsPage.htm

I discovered that when trying to locate whatever it was that Corey986 apparently found (which I still can't find any trace of, or anything else Edward claimed to have seen).

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Anyone? Supposedly corey986

Anyone? Supposedly corey986 had one of the keyboards that Edward saw (if Edward is correct); I did ask corey986, but if he knows anything, he’s not saying. Has Edward just documented a fever dream?

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I have known Harro Walsh

I have known Harro Walsh personally. Sadly i have not been able to get any contact and the state of his collection is unknown. He had serious health issues. The last time i had contact with him was when he was treated in hospital for something serious (most likely a stroke). He was talking about getting back to me in january 2019... he never did. There were some projects for which i had sent him some parts for collaboration. Sadly the website seems to be the only thin remaining of his work and collection. He owned a lot of very rare stuff. Apple 1 specific hardware and some prototypes from his time at university in the 70s. He owned a speech recognition system that he co-developed in the 70s at university. It was a lerning system based on TTL logic. The system was made up of at least 5 PCBs stacked onto each other around 80cm x 80cm in size. It was like a cube of electronics. His small appartment was packed this boxes to the ceiling. at one time i have mentioned that i needed a new IIgs mainboard... he went to a random box, opened it and inside were at least 30 IIgs mainboard stacked tightly. He just gave me one of them.

I have not seen these special Apple II key switches in persona. Be aware that Harro tended to get minor things wrong later on since he had a lot of problems with his health and could not work on his projects in one go. At one time he lost over 2 TB of documentation, photos and schematics due to a server crash. I had some of the Apple II specific stuff backed up but not all of it (around 60 Gb). None of the suff i had was related to keyswitches, though. Some of the info on the website might have been from memory since he had to reconstruct his website from scratch and a lot of documentation was lost.

-Jonas

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It’s not that the drawings

It’s not that the drawings are a little off, but rather that they are hugely off — I can’t fathom what he could have seen that even remotely resembled most of what he drew. If they are all keyboards used with the Apple 1, that would make more sense (as those could be anything) but I have no reason to believe that Apple ever used anything resembling his illustrations. It’s a complete mystery to me! Perhaps in time, these keyboards will reappear …

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Unlikely

I doubt keyswitches like those ever existed. They would not be self-cleaning, so they could not function reliably for any period of time unless the mechanism was fully sealed. They also do not have any affordance for overtravel or any other tactile response, so would be almost impossible to use.

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Depends

Design 2 bears a passing resemblance to a Futaba patent (JPS49132567). Not the same design at all, but one that could have all the same limitations — hard to tell, because I cannot read Japanese and the patent illustrations are unclear. The real point of confusion with type 2 (and the Futaba patent) is that the contacts will only remain connected for an instant. This is not inherently problematic (it offers an alternative approach to N-key rollover) but the contacts must not touch again on the return stroke, which this design would. Confirmed mechanical single-shot pulse keyboard switches do ensure that the contacts only close on the way down; Hall effect switches with pulse output do this entirely electronically.

If we assume that the “stationary” contacts in designs 3 and 4 can flex, that would give you both overtravel and wiping contacts. (Akin to Sasse Series 25.) Self-cleaning and sealing are not necessary however, as many switches of that era used non-wiping gold alloy point contact (e.g. Mechanical Enterprises T-5, Cherry M6, Alps KCC); this gives you a cost–lifetime/durability balance more suitable for 8-bit micros than for example Hall effect or reed.

The drawings are crude, but they are not implausible as switches. I just struggle to understand how these had any relationship to the Apple II.

Drawing 1 implies conductive foam pad, which I think I have read about, but normally those designs are capacitive and have the spring above the switch (under the keycap). In terms of Apple, I only know of the Lisa having a keyboard like that (from Key Tronic, linear, with a coil spring).

I just wish that photos survived of whatever these all were.

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