Continuing the Keyboard Saga

I’m having this very weird confluence-of-thought thing going with John Gruber right now. My last post was about keyboards and my old Apple Extended Keyboard II, and then a few days later Gruber devoted an entire episode of his podcast The Talk Show to it.

It’s odd because after my last blog post, I thought about why I had given up on what was once my favorite keyboard. It was a combination of no media keys and flaky compatibility problems I always had with the old drivers for the iMate, Griffin’s ADB-to-USB adapter. But then I realized those were all problems in OS 9, which was prone to flakiness whenever it came to third-party devices. Under OS X, I discovered, there’s no software required at all to use the iMate; it just works.

The other issue is the media keys, in particular, I really like having volume and iTunes control at my fingertips without mousing. Then the solution came to me: the PowerMate, also from Griffin. I bought one of these years ago but I never really used it because my Logitech Elite keyboard had all those iTunes controls and a volume wheel, so I never used it. I dug that out, installed the drivers, and discovered that it does exactly what I missed.

So I un-mothballed my old (I mean that, it’s from 1990) AEK II. Keyboards actually get pretty nasty so I spent like 45 minutes cleaning it. And it’s wonderful! I had forgotten what a terrific piece of hardware it is. The only really annoying thing about it is the lack of a wrist rest; I haven’t used a keyboard without an integrated wrist rest in ages. So after a trip to Office Depot for a wrist rest, I’m back in business.

And then today the esteemed Mr. Gruber posted pictures of his old AEK II. See the divot he’d worn into his space bar after years of use? Well, guess what? Mine has the same divot.



Interesting how similarly they’ve worn. (John’s a much better photographer than me; IRL mine looks even more like his pictures.) This makes me worry that this one isn’t long for this world. It is, after all, almost 18 years old (though it got the last roughly seven years off, or partially off, for good behavior).

So, if anyone has one of these bad boys still new in the original box—or John, if you get any extras in response to your podcast plea—let me know. I’ll be happy to buy it!

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