Apple aluminium wired keyboard and older ones. Miss em?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Cox Orange, May 23, 2018.

  1. Cox Orange, May 23, 2018
    Last edited: May 25, 2018

    Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I started this poll and would love to invite you.

    Here in the PowerPC subsection, I would love to discuss with you what we PowerPC Users think, who (most of us probably) know not only about the aluminium wired versions, but also about some even older versions, that not only already inherited the usefull usb-hubs, but also a Power-button to start your Mac.

    For an overview, Wikipedia has it all but I also saw some nice articles on the internet by users dedicated to mac vintage keyboards, that I don't find right now...

    Let us share our memories and opinions! :)

    I have the full lenght Alu wired Keyboard and those of the iMac G3 era. Would love to have the original PowerMac G4 AGP keyboard, that was the same as the iMac G3 graphite keyboard, but had a longer wire. Lately I am missing the short version of the aluminium type, again. Wikipedia told me, that this one (A1242) was a special version only shipped with the iMac and never seperately sold. I forgot that...

    There are very cheap replacements for the short alu one by chinese manufacturers that don't have the apple layout, of course...

    There is also one ADB keyboard it seems is the holy grail for collectors, I forgot its name... maybe the "extended II"?


    Some links
    About the Apple Extended II keyboard
    someone "niggling" ;) about the apple keyboards and their respective design "flaws" (be they intended or not?)
    A loose history, part I
    A loose history, part II

    Hardware "hacks":
    converting ADB to USB (Thanks @weckart )
    converting ADB to USB
    build a ADB-USB converter
  2. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    I have used and still own a bunch of Apple's keyboards. I am not sure of all the names of them though.

    I have the following:

    Full-sized wired aluminum
    Full-sized white and clear 1 wired one, and 2 or 3 wireless BT ones
    Full-sized Bondi Blue ones, I think I have two of them
    2 or 3 older Pre-1998 Mac ones, I think they have a serial port on them

    My favorite one is the white and clear ones. The key press and key placements seemed natural for my fingers.
    I prefer the wired version, because Bluetooth would always give me trouble on the wireless one.

    The newer aluminum one looks really nice, but using it was not fun. I would always lose my finger placement.

    The older G3 iMac one was okay, but I preferred having a separate directional keys.
  3. amagichnich macrumors 6502


    Feb 3, 2017
    Stuttgart, Germany
    M2980 Design Keyboard (gray)
    M2452 Strawberry (iMac G3)
    M2452 Graphite (PowerMac G4)
    M7803 Black Pro Keyboard
    A1048 White

    Definitely want to have the X0044 Newton Keyboard and the Extended Keyboard II and maybe one of the Next keyboards if I will find one
  4. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    I'm a fan of the full sized, wired aluminum keyboard. I've picked up several from Ebay. I do not like the new butterfly keyboard for both feel and quality. I've purchased three of them and all three have a slight bend to them (one sufficient enough to return for a replacement). I can understand the butterfly keyboard on the MacBook but no reason for it on a desktop keyboard.
  5. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    I have the A1242 and I bought it separately. Can't remember whether from Apple or a third party seller, though, but I have a feeling it was from the Apple online store despite what Wiki says. I have a couple of the extended IIs. They aren't rare at all. The oddest one I have is the adjustable keyboard with a separate number keypad.
  6. AphoticD macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2017
    I did most of my typing up until 2001 on an Apple Extended Keyboard II. I've had a few of these with my beige Power Macs over time and preferred the "Extended" over the standard.
    I loved the travel, especially that of the Power Button. It was a very satisfying keyboard to use.

    Second up would have been the clear plastic with white keys model which shipped with my G5 in '04.
    I accidentally killed two of these with liquid spills and consequently don't have one anymore. It had a bit of a rigid design and I can recall the angle of the keys occasionally resisting against a depress, but I did like the look of the design.

    I bought this Bluetooth Apple Keyboard (the model which takes 2x AA batteries) and Magic Mouse (also 2x AA) new on the same day in late 2009. It was on a Black Friday sale at the Apple Store in Sydney. I've used this combo as both a portable and a desktop solution ever since. I use rechargeable NiMH batteries which hold a charge for about a month at a time. When they are low, they go into a 4x battery wall charger overnight to continue on in the morning.

    I like the design and it slides perfectly into a bag for use with my iPad (1st gen) or MacBook unibody '08. I actually don't miss the numeric keypad. But I'm not doing extensive spreadsheet work or anything, just typing and coding.

    This combo has been in command of all of my desktop PowerPC and Intel Macs which share the mouse and keyboard via Synergy (v1.6.3).
  7. tdbmoss macrumors 6502


    Dec 4, 2011
    I have two of the original flat aluminium keyboards (with the number pad) which I have used for my PCs for years now, couldn't go back to a normal PC keyboard! Nor would I go wireless as I can't see they really have any advantage and having to deal with batteries is just a hassle.

    I'm pretty sure that the shorter version without the number pad was available separately (the retail boxes for the larger ones were updated to say "with Numeric Keypad" to differentiate them from the smaller models, though I don't have the box for the smaller one as I didn't get it new) - also have one of those as its tiny size make it great to keep around for when a spare keyboard is needed for testing a computer etc. Here's Apple's smallest and largest wired keyboard, the difference in size and weight is pretty significant :)

  8. eddjedi macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2011
    Not one I use as I want to keep it mint, but here's a new old stock LCIII keyboard :)

    macintosh-lc-iii-11.jpg macintosh-lc-iii-12.jpg
  9. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    I loved this keyboard, great keyboard...too bad it can't be used on modern systems.

    I'm not a big fan of this keyboard from a usability point of view. I always felt the amount of effort to press the keys was too high. I have a couple of these and, despite my lack of complete satisfaction with it, use it as my primary keyboard on my test systems. Aesthetically it's a very nice looking keyboard.
  10. smirking macrumors 68000


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Ugh. If those were your favorites, we need to get you a proper mechanical keyboard, friend. There are plenty of keyboards that have that exact same layout with a much better feel to the keyboard. I'm not even going to recommend a particular keyboard. Mechanical keyboards based on one of the Cherry switches are very popular these days and aren't that hard to find anymore. Just go look for them and you'll find the keyboard of your dreams.
  11. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    That is interesting.

    I like that model keyboard for the reason you dislike it. I like the throw in the key presses, and I rarely have to look down at the keyboard for my finger placement. I would rarely ever accidently press a key, every press was deliberate do to the long throw.

    The new aluminum one, the key press is too short, and my fingers lose their place. Also, I constantly press a key by accident.
    --- Post Merged, May 24, 2018 ---
    I use plenty of keyboards, most are non-apple. I have yet to find one that I am as accurate with as the white and clear Apple one.
  12. smirking macrumors 68000


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Those keyboards started off fine. I believe they used rubber dome keyswitches and tended to become stiffer and stiffer as you used the keyboard more. It did not age well. I remember rather liking it at first, but quickly hating it within a few months.
  13. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    That's interesting to hear. I don't believe I ever used one when it was new, maybe I would have initially liked it.
    --- Post Merged, May 24, 2018 ---
    I consider this a personal preference. I don't recall having read any reviews where the reviewer disliked them (like I did the hockey puck mouse) so I assumed it was just my personal preference. It's not that I dislike the keyboard, I just notice I miss characters when touch typing. A little lighter on the keystroke and I would love it.
  14. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
  15. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    Concerning the Magic Keyboards vs. the older aluminum ones, I think the new ones compare very favorably. The key travel is slightly less, but also more tactile thanks to the "butterfly" key mechanisms. I haven't seen reports that they fail easily like the keyboard in the new MacBook Pros, and mine has been free of problems for two years.

    Once you start including the vintage keyboards in this comparison, things change a little bit. I use the pre-aluminum keyboard with my 2006 iMac, which provides a lot more key travel than the later Apple keyboards, but is so-so when to comes to typing feel and accuracy. Same goes for the Pro keyboards and USB keyboards.
    Yes, the Apple Extended Keyboard II. Pretty much the Model M of Mac keyboards.

    This is a true mechanical keyboard, while the keyboards Apple released since discontinuing it are all membrane keyboards. You can still use one with MacOS Sierra, provided you have an ADB to USB adapter (though the caps lock and soft power button don't do anything). I have done that, but decided to go back to my Magic Keyboard which works well for my limited desk space (and of course the older keyboards lack the volume / brightness / media keys on the newer ones).
    Nice, definitely doesn't show any signs of yellowing. I have an unused Apple Pro Keyboard still in the original plastic, and the translucent insulation on the cord has not turned that nasty brown color as they usually do. :)
  16. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
  17. smirking macrumors 68000


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    If you're really desperate, you can find the Apple Extended II and the Griffin iMate adapter on eBay, but you may be disappointed that the keyboard wasn't as perfect as you remember it being. That keyboard came at a time when a lot of other manufacturers were starting the trend toward cheap rubber dome keyboards instead of mechanical switches.

    Our rubber dome keyboards today are a lot better than the earlier versions like the Apple white and clear keyboard. They tended to start smooth and end up stiff and choppy or they would start off stiff and mushy and stay that way (original iMac keyboards). I think I remembered the Apple Extended II so fondly because it stood out among the mass consumer movement with keyboard manufacturing.

    I got myself an Apple Extended II in really good condition a number of years ago. I thought it'd be my BFF, but it lasted only a few months before I got frustrated with it and went back to my other mechanicals.

    There's a keyboard company ( in Canada that makes modern keyboards based on the Apple Extended II. The switch that Apple used in their keyboard is the ALPS switch, which isn't made by the original manufacturer anymore, but Matias either makes or licenses replicas of the ALPS switch.

    I do have a few modern ALPS style switch keyboards including one made by Matias. As with my experience with my vintage Apple Extended II, I find them nice to type on, but it's not the bliss that I remember. I think it's like candy that you remember as being the best thing ever in the world. You find it again as an adult and half the time it's just ok and half the time it makes your stomach hurt.
  18. pl1984 macrumors 68000

    Oct 31, 2017
    Thanks for the recommendations smirking but I'm not in the market to purchase an AE II keyboard at this time. I'm trying to thin out my parts collection so I'm fine with my current keyboards.
  19. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    For my money nothing beats the Logitech S530 keyboard for extensive touch typing. It is a cheap, modern membrane construction but my fingers fly on it with none of the obnoxious noise or fatigue of its mechanical predecessors.

  20. smirking macrumors 68000


    Aug 31, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Another Logitech keyboard was probably the first membrane keyboard that I absolutely loved. It's the Logitech Internet Keyboard that had extra shortcut keys to help you navigate around evil IE6 in the Web 1.0 days.

    Logitech seemed to buck the trend of making membrane keyboard that felt awful and made some really nice ones, but they suffered the eventual stiffening that is inevitable with membrane keyboards that are used heavily. They just lose their feel. I bought three copies of this keyboard before giving up on membranes and moving onto mechanicals.[​IMG]

    If you like a really nice membrane keyboard, you might also really like a linear force mechanical. They're the most similar mechanical to membranes and on the right keyboard, they're fairly quiet.
  21. Cox Orange, May 25, 2018
    Last edited: May 25, 2018

    Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Nice how the thread developed!

    I am surprised the clear open top white one is so popular. I had the black and clear Pro keyboard and didn't like it and then stayed away from the clear white one with open top and kept my iMac G3 keyboard; probably just what one is - or better I - was used to. Was also using my ibook G4 a lot at the time. If I could wish for a newly designed keyboard I would actually love the keyboard of the ibook G4 mid 2005 as a desktop keyboard. :)

    One fun fact:
    In German Mac forums for the open top white and clear keyboard the nickname "Krümelschublade" is widely used. "Krümel" is the debris of a cookie and "Schublade" is a drawer :D
    This is quite interesting, because I often read recommendations to put it in the dish washer from time to time. :D
    This and the implications it creates for nature are my reasons, why I don't like wireless keyboards. Then there is the possibility to loose contact with the computer and lastly that I am a bit suspicious towards wireless stuff for health reasons, when adding up all wireless sources, although I really know, that this is stupid to think and doesn't harm.
  22. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    I have the black PC version of that knocking around somewhere. I still find the S530 a big improvement but keyboards are very individual and I doubt there will be any consensus on 'the best'.
    --- Post Merged, May 25, 2018 ---
    They aren't kidding. I have taken a couple of those apart and cleaned them thoroughly. One was a filthy internet purchase. The muck and grime weren't visible on the photos but yuck when it arrived; you could have made a meal from what I scraped out. I also have a BT version of the crumb catcher that I used with a Mac Mini, which I gave to my sister because her PC was riddled with viruses (Facebook fanatic). She's now on her second iMac. The Mac Mini died the other year but the keyboard is still trundling on.
  23. Cox Orange thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Now that this particular model seems so well liked by several members I get curious to try one (without the crumbs of course :D ), but I am not getting a used A1242 either from Ebay. I have hygenic reasons. I heard that you can't put both in a bath of desinfectant, because they work with foil. How people then recommend to put the crumb catcher in the dish washer is a mystery to me, then.
  24. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    I have done this maybe 6 times, and it does a really good job cleaning it. I would then put the keyboard upside down over top an air register for a few days to make sure all the water was gone before plugging it in.

    If a drink was spilled on it, and the user did not unplug it, maybe the liquid fried some of the components.
  25. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    You can dismantle it and wash it then as I did. I used surgical spirit to clear the grease off. There are electrical bits you might choose not to soak and shouldn't need to but you can pop off the key caps and give them a thorough wash. That and the casing bear the brunt of human DNA deposits among other uglies. My Pro keyboard came up gleaming as brand new.

    Dunno about the A1242. That looks more like a sealed unit to me.

Share This Page