A story about F12

The F12 key has existed for a long time—as far back as 1965, if Wikipedia is to be believed. Since then, it has had many uses. On Mac computers, the F12 key is used as the "volume up" key. On my Windows machine at work, the provided Dell keyboard's F12 key can be used to skip forward a track, but only if you hold down Fn first. Regardless of its purpose, billions of keyboards around the globe have an F12 key.

...except for this one.

Dirty keyboard held close to camera, right half of keyboard visible, F12 keycap missing. White keyboard with some keys gray.

Well clearly it had an F12 key at some point, but not anymore. The keyboard, though, looks grimy and old. The reason for that, is because it is grimy and old. I found it in the basement of my collage as I was searching for old electronics. I guess I succeeded.

Anyway... cleaning montage:

keyboard, disassembled with yellowed keys
keyboard, even more disassembled, missing all keys
2 paper plats, each with keycaps on them. One dirty, one clean. a cleaning cloth is visible.
reassembled, cleaned, and visibly whiter keyboard

Much better. Now you may be wondering why I went through all that effort to clean some ancient and grimy old keyboard. That's because it's not just any old keyboard—it's the best keyboard ever made. Looking at the images, we can see that each key has a spring. Those springs buckle when the key is depressed, creating an incredible feeling that keyboard today only attempt to match.

This keyboard is called the IBM Model M. You know a keyboard must be good when it has a Wikipedia page.

This one was made January 28th, 1994, manufactured by Lexmark. It is the best keyboard I have ever used. It took zero time for me to acclimate into the new keyboard, and the feeling is incredible. Unfortunately, it has no Windows/Command/Mod/Super keys, and only 2-key rollover, making it unsuitable for video games. But for typing... there's nothing better.

picture of desk with right half of keyboard visible, macbook visible behind keyboard, and awful IBM mouse visible to the right.

Alongside the Model M, I found the matching IBM mouse, which is a piece of shit that nobody likes. It has a ball and no scroll wheel. Literally unusable.

In lighter news, I found something else.

Different keybaord on wooden desk. Even filthier than the last one.

This keyboard is the IBM Model F. Again, all good keyboard have a Wikipedia article. It is fucking filthy.

Closeup of the gross keys

Just look at those disgusting keys!

My manager wanted dibs on one of the keyboards, and I was happy to give him one, since he's great.

He also cleaned his up, and it looks even better than mine!

immaculate keyboard

Now that we can properly see this thing, what in the hell?
Let's play a game called "what in the world is wrong with this keyboard?"

Function keys 1 through 10 visible, on left side of keyboard
Function keys 1 through 10 only, and they're on the left of the keyboard
Ctrl visible, below tab, with raised portions the size of a normal key
Ctrl on the left side as well, just below Tab?? Why are they wide but have a small spot to actually press them?
tiny left shift, backslack key next to it, shift and alt have small bumps for actual keypresses
Actually, that small spot applies to all the keys! Also why is left shift so small? And why is the backslash key to the left of Z?
Oddly placed keys, see image subtext for exact descriptions
Enter is tall, shift is small, the 0 key on the numpad is wide, there are no dedicated arrow keys, PrtSc is combined with *. Numlock and Scrolllock are double wide, the period key is double wide, and the closing backet key is slightly wide.
bottom of keyboard, highlighting spacebar
looooong spacebar

Of course, I saved the best for last:

The "+" button takes up THREE SPACES and is SUPER TALL

Why not use that extra space for "*" and "/"? Who knows? This keyboard was made before keyboard layouts were standardized, so IBM just threw everything at the wall and see what stuck.

The keyboard, though, is made of METAL and weighs MORE THAN A BRICK. If you hit someone with this keyboard, it is assault with a deadly weapon. I could legitimately kill someone with this thing. It's glorious, and my manager loves it. He's set it up at his desk at home.

You can probably guess what I wrote this blog post with.

picture of macbook on desk, with IBM Model M in front of it

The Model M is so nice.

Anyway, I ordered a replacement F12 key, and it should arrive in a couple days.