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Company research status

This page documents research status into various companies, organised by country, in terms of progress made by contacting the company directly and in terms of research made in the company’s native language. Please note that this page is likely to go out of date!

Contents

Japan

Company Status Needed Notes
Alps Electric Dead loss Research Alps consistently refuse to respond any enquiries by any means. Another person managed to elicit the Alps lubricant, but that same Alps contact would not respond. While a lot of data has been recovered so far, there is still a long way to go. Some data will be recoverable from Japanese publications, while other information may be lost forever. It is not known whether Alps had a trade journal in the way that Fujitsu did, full of in depth product information right down to the mathematical formula level.
Brother Available Research No research attempted.
Fujitsu Partial progress Persuasive contact; research Fujitsu provided a small amount of information. They still have the ability to produce leaf spring keyboards and switches and direct contact by a Japanese speaker is needed to coax the remaining details from them, such as what “FES-301S” is (FES-300 is the sheet keyboard leaf spring type and FES-301 is the full travel type, but the FKB3000 datasheet gives the sheet key type as FES-301S, which is odd. FES-360 (discrete leaf spring) is coming up to end of life, and it would be ideal to be able to buy some of each type before it is too late. 聖人 was able to obtain a lot of data from Fujitsu’s Japanese journal, of which we do not have permission to share online. There is likely more information available.
Futaba Dead end Research Futaba responded, but no longer have any information. We have Futaba specification numbers for various series, as well as various switch specifications, but these details are vague and confusing. There is a very long way still to go.
Hirose Cherry Partial progress Persuasive contact Staff remain at Hirose who remember the keyboard switches, but it has not been possible thus far to correspond with them directly. They did provide datasheets for Hirose MX, Hirose M8, M85, MD and MJ but refuse to allow these to be posted online, even though all the potentially confidential detail is already available in American and German Cherry literature. Direct contact in Japanese is required. It is not even clear whether the switches were ever sold separately, or only as part of complete keyboards. It would be nice if a persuasive Japanese speaker could negotiate the privilege to share the datasheets online, with any necessary redaction, in order to allow for independent verification and validation of current research, and to allow Japanese speakers to identify additional information not apparent to those who cannot read the language.
Hosiden Dead end Research Hosiden responded, but no longer have any information. Presently there is no known information on their keyboard switches; they were identified solely by their branding.
Jelco Available Research 株式会社ジェルコ (Jelco KK) appear to have gone. (Note that 「ジェルコ」 “jieruko” can be treated as “Jelco” or “Jerko” — the latter is currently used by another business.) Keyboard switch patents for Jelco exist on J-PlatPat, but there are no patents matching the confirmed Jelco switches (JKS-91) nor the “Futaba-like” type. Research within Japan is needed to trace the company and their products.
Kaseda Assistance needed Contact 加世田光義 (Mitsuyoshi Kaseda) worked for both SMK and Hirose. All attempts to correspond with him by e-mail (in combined English/machine-translated Japanese) have gone ignored, but it remains possible that he would respond to a telephone call. He may still remember details about both SMK and Hirose Cherry switches.
Katano Available Research “Katano” is the name provided by Tai-Hao, but they are Taiwanese and Katano are supposedly Japanese, so the exact spelling is lost. Katano could have been 「カタノ」 (“katano” in katakana), 「交野市」 (“katano-shi”, Katano City), or possibly some other kanji pronounced “katano”.
Matsushita Available Research No information has ever shown up on their membrane keyboards. This requires research within Japan.
MinebeaMitsumi Partial success Contact MinebeaMitsumi (formerly Minebea, formerly Nippon Miniature Bearing or NMB) revealed that they were manufacturing keyboards for IBM’s personal computers—to IBM’s design—in 1982, the year before they bought Hi-Tek. Unicomp refuse to co-operate with the investigation, and ClickyKeyboards deny any knowledge of NMB-made keyboards. MinebeaMitsumi got fed up with the discussion and ghosted, and there is now a mystery of exactly what market these keyboards were made for, or what IBM models they corresponded to. This was also some years before they began membrane production.
Mitsumi Dead loss Research No progress was ever made with Mitsumi directly, who appear to have no details left. The Wayback Machine yielded many details about their membrane keyboards, but virtually no confirmed details have been recovered about any of their mechanical types (KAM, KCT, KDM, KLM, KLT etc). KLT-11 is the only known part number, and all other series names are only known from PCB codes.
Omron Dead loss Research Questioning failed. Extensive research into Japanese literature will still be required regardless, not just for B3G and B3G-S, but all the older types, including their reed and Hall effect switches and keyboards.
Shinden Contact and research Shinden list a number of keyboard switch models, none of which are presently known to have been used in keyboards. It would be useful to know if these were ever used in keyboards. Shinden did not respond to a request for information.
SMK Dead end Research SMK responded, but no longer have any information. The Wayback Machine yielded interesting details about their membrane keyboards, but little has been recovered on their higher-end types (JM-0400 mechanical/reed/integrated membrane, tall reed, and DIN-compliant mechanical). Extensive research into Japanese literature is required.
Topre Available Anything No research conducted. This has in effect been left to 002, as the Topre specialist.

Korea

Company Status Needed Notes
Sejin Electron Dead loss Anything Sejin was a joint venture company under Futaba. Keyswitch production was transferred eventually to Sejin. Sejin consistently refuse to respond. Little else is likely to be gained as the switches were marketed as Futaba, even if they were made by Sejin in Korea.

Taiwan

Company Status Needed Notes
Himake More needed Contact Himake provided a small amount of information circa 2013 when contacted, but due either the language barrier or reluctance to share information, or both, little solid information was obtained. A fluent Chinese speaker is needed. Himake is fingered as the company most likely to have been the major Alps clone manufacturer, and some clone types broadly correspond with the details in Himake catalogue pages, but more data is required.
Ortek Dead loss Contact Ortek have consistenly refused to respond. There is a vanishingly small possibility that they may still remember who supplied their Alps clone switches.
Tai-Hao Success Nothing Tai-Hao have provided a fair amount of detail on their old products. It is possible that a fluent Chinese speaker could learn more, but chances are not much left is still clearly remembered.
Xiang Min Success Uncertain A fluent Chinese speaker may be able to clear up a few points, but at the moment there is nothing in particular to be learned from them.