15 Year Review

A project log for USB Apple Extended Keyboard

An upgrade of the Apple Extended Keyboard I USB-ised in the mid 2000s

Julian CalabyJulian Calaby 11/21/2020 at 04:550 Comments

Ultimately the fate of the AEK was that I barely used it. My computer at the time required a PS/2 keyboard, so I used a Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard on that (also excellent to type on) and shortly after I upgraded it to a motherboard that fully understood USB keyboards my partner bought me an (excellent) DAS keyboard which immediately became my daily driver.

The AEK then ended up in my pile of computer stuff in my wardrobe and was mostly forgotten about until, almost 10 years after I built it, I ended up working for a company that provided me with a MacBook Pro for my development computer, and as the supplied external keyboard (an Apple Magic Keyboard - I still don't know what made it magic) was a poor typing experience, the only obvious solution was to dig out my old Apple Extended Keyboard and plug it back into a Mac.

My colleagues loved it, I loved it, but as I got used to it's shape and layout I started typing faster and faster and discovered that while it was lovely to type on, it had a pretty glaring flaw: certain combinations of keys, ones which I hit fairly regularly, wouldn't work every time. I think that the issue is that there's a maximum number of keys the controller can detect at once and when I typed fast enough, I was hitting that limit.

I replaced it with a Logitech one which didn't have that issue.

So back into the cupboard it went until 2020 when I started working from home full-time and needed a good keyboard. My partner has an old Acer keyboard from forever ago which got her through an essay heavy university course without a single hiccough, but somewhere in the past 15 years the spacebar's springs had failed so it wouldn't pop back up reliably. I tried to fix it, but nothing I did worked reliably.

Faced with the possibility of having to steal a fairly cheap Logitech keyboard from another computer, I remembered my AEK and pressed it back into service almost 15 years after I built it.

And it's excellent, the keys are wonderful to type on, not quite as nice as the Cherry MX Blues in my DAS, but still pretty damn good, and once again, I've started running into the limitations of it's hardware: every now and again it misses a keypress. I'm clearly typing slower now than I was before, because it doesn't happen as often as it used to, but it's still bothering me.

So it's time to do something about it.