Apr 30 2019

My IBM Model M keyboard finally getting the maintenance it deserves after 30 years of service. (pictorial)

I own an IBM Model M keyboard. It’s easily (by orders of magnitude) the oldest component that makes up my workstation, but due to it’s wonderfully tactile precision, it is certainly my favorite keyboard of all time and despite it’s age, still serves me every single day as my primary desktop input device. However (there’s always a however), I’m confident that beyond some light surface cleaning and disinfecting, it had never been properly cleaned.

I started by just wanting to pull and wash all of the key caps to get the sludge off, so i soaked them in some warm water with a bit of dish soap, rinsed them off a few times with plain tap water, and used paper towels to rub off any remaining grossness, but then i realized when i pulled the caps that what lie underneath was suuuper gross
My goodness this keyboard was ridiculously gross underneath the keys!
Trying out my method of using a disinfectant sprayed paper towel dragged through the muck with a q-tip and/or xacto knife – looks like it works reasonably well
I got the majority of gross off, but i went back in for a little more cleaning.
After a few more passes and some q-tip action, I got it looking more or less reasonably respectable… not the best it could be, but way better than it was.
While cleaning the keyboard itself, I put the keys a bowl full of warm water with a little bit of dish soap to soak for a while
Here the keys and caps are drying before reassembly.
Here I’ve got all the keys put back in place.
then I put all the caps back in place (yes, from memory, in about 10 minutes or so but i wasn’t rushing through it) – WAY cleaner, lookin’ good! – I then plugged it in and verified that all the keys work as they should and by golly, everything is grand!

After a good cleaning, I think I should be able to get another 30 years of computer enjoyment out of this piece of functional computer history. Typing on this thing is still a dream, and the tactile feedback and quick responsiveness allows me to type about 1.5 faster on it than other non-mechanical keyboards I’ve tried (and many mechanical ones as well). Overall I’m very happy with the results!

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