Factual updates and other interesting changes are reported here. Adjustments and tweaks are not listed.
Updates for 2019
Sunday, 13th October
- Until such time that I hear from Honeywell again, I have now posted the 1SW, 1SW100, 11SN, 101SN and 201SN charts that I have thus far, on the SW Series and SN Series pages. These are internal documents, and the engineering notes are redacted per Honeywell’s request; this does remove some useful information regarding identifying the various types. (I am still hoping that they have older revisions of these documents with less internal redactions, to fill in the details of more of the modes.)
- Sometime around the end of August last year I had an x-ray taken of the two fully-assembled Datanetics DC-60 switches that Meryl sent me: one perfectly linear and one highly tactile. Disappointingly, both are identical internally, despite feeling very different. I have finally posted the x-ray image on a new makeshift Datanetics DC-60 page.
Wednesday, 9th October
Further rummaging has led to the rediscovery of an ITW patent that helps differentiate two of the early ferrite core types. Re-reading the patents page has led to matching up the patent that goes with the double-action ferrite core switches in the HP 9845 workstation keyboard. Understanding of Licon/Cortron/ITW’s ferrite core product range is getting slowly clearer.
Tuesday, 8th October
It seems that I forgot to post a link to the utility model for Omron “Alps-style” switches. The utility model was filed in 1988, giving a rough idea of when these switches were introduced. Sadly there is still no sign of a series name for them.
Sunday, 6th October
At the same time that Bitsavers uploaded the Electronic Engineer magazine keyboard guide, they also uploaded two Cherry data entry keyboard brochures from 1971, which are now the oldest documents to date on Cherry keyboards. These documents offer two very interesting findings:
- It was already known that Cherry filed a reed switch patent in 1970. These Cherry reed switches are now confirmed from official documentation. Only two models are known: 201-0100 (SPST-NO) and 202-0100 (DPST-NO).
- The documents also confirm that Cherry M6 started off with different part numbers. UncleFan already found a Cherry sample card demonstrating this, and this too is now confirmed from official literature. The reed switches were assigned 20x codes, while the gold crosspoint switches were assigned 26x codes, where x denotes the number of poles. Within two years, the “2” would change to “M” for the gold crosspoint switches, and the reed switches would disappear.
Saturday, 5th October
I discovered on Friday that, in July, Bitsavers scanned in a guide to keyboard technology, published by Electronic Engineer magazine in 1971 in conjunction with Micro Switch. This guide has some interesting definitions of switch types.
Depicted in that document is a mercury switch, that is clearly a Mercutronic type from Mechanical Enterprises. After discovering that the all the archive scans of Electronics Australia were removed from americanradiohistory.com for copyright reasons, I went looking to see where it had gone, and found one more mention of Mercutron(ic)¹ that I missed: a depiction in Computerworld—also from 1971—of the exact same switch (complete with the external return spring and base missing from the other diagram), along with its model: MC-210. This implies MC series.
¹ both “Mercutron” and “Mercutronic” can appear together …
Saturday, 28th September
Deepak Kandepet found an Alps calculator keypad on eBay, with PCB code CH34149B. The switches are the type that resembles spring bridge but with a metal top, but the PCB code begins “CH”. This demonstrates that “CH” PCB codes are not specific to the series that became KCC. This suggests that “SCH” is not an older name for KCC, but instead a classification code for mechanical switches. This new theory all depends on what contact type is inside SCK switches, because the theory would indicate that these are neither mechanical nor reed.
Saturday, 31st August
Curiously, it seems that there were at least three designs of Clare-Pendar S820 switch. Characteristically dreadful photos of the third type to be discovered are now posted. After revisiting the S820 and S880 catalogue page provided by Terry Trumbull of Electro-Mech, it seems that this third design is that which is depicted in the photograph in the catalogue. As the catalogue page was scanned in 1 bit per pixel, all detail is lost from the photograph, but it does appear to have the diagonally-placed retention clips of this third design.
Although S820 is nominally 2.5 oz, the example in question is significantly lower in force than a Micro Switch SD Series 2.5 oz switch. As expected for a reed switch, it is smooth, and noticeably smoother than SD Series.
Tuesday, 27th August
It seems that the plunger colours for Micro Switch SW Series non-illuminated switches may finally be understood. The original plungers were grey (ca. 1968–1971) followed by black when the plungers were redesigned. Around the mid-70s, the momentary switches were then colour-coded by sensor type: red for sink level, blue for sink pulse, and seemingly green for source level. The last one based on the assumption that “C”-type SN switches are source level, thus green-plunger SW switches with the same sensor type (per the switch bills of materials) should also be source level.
The pale red switches sometimes seen are just red switches, which for some reason can either be a vivid red, or a soft red.
Wednesday, 14th August
Series 7 is not Series 7 after all.
With the help of the fantastic staff at the Smithsonian Libraries (Christine and Trina), we have traced the reed switches to Series KB. For purposes of maximum historical confusion, these switches have an alphabetic series name but part numbers as though the series name was numeric.
By the 1973 Manual Switches catalogue, details on the keyboard switches were very cursory, likely because in keyboard applications they were long superseded by SW Series keyboards and switches.
As for SW Series, one of the last remaining anomalies is 1SW12-BL, which has been M demonstrated to be tactile. That must be what “BL” denotes. Sadly this is not in any of the recovered 1SW Series charts.
Saturday, 10th August
A new, dedicated page on Micro Switch 1SW200 Series, with the first photos of the SW Series bi-level (double action) switches.
Thursday, 8th August
Finally my Micro Switch SW Series models 1SW201-R and 1SW204-R switches arrived from the US. These are exactly what I hoped they would be: the elusive “bi-level” (double-action types). Double action in SW Series is achieved not with two sensors, but with a larger sensor IC with two Hall elements integrated. The stage two springs are attached to the plunger and protrude down from it, making contact with the switch mounting frame.
The sensor in these switches is type “U”.
Tuesday, 6th August
All evidence now indicates that the switches used in Micro Switch RW Series keyboards are
Micro Switch Series 7 . Micro Switch produced a number of switch series with numeric series names, with Series 2, Series 3, Series 4 and Series 6 being confirmed. The catalogue listing numbers of all these series follow the same pattern: the series number, then a classification letter, followed by additional letters and numbers. Series 7 appears to be a derivative of Series 3; both series use the same rail mount system. Like Series 7, Series 3 comprises both reed and non-reed types. Series 7 switches came in a variety of configurations, of which not all were suitable for keyboards, pointing to the series not being specifically intended for data entry keyboards.
Additionally, the keycaps for Micro Switch SW and SN Series and Micro Switch SD Series have been found to be 2SW Series. Although not confirmed by literature, all keycap part numbers appear to fit into this subseries, including those of illuminated switches.
Monday, 5th August
Two years after receiving it in 2017, I have finally scanned in the complete George Risk Industries keyboards and switches catalogue that they sent me via Chaldon International in the UK.
Sunday, 28th July
Micro Switch PB8* keyboard switches are starting to make sense now. The difference between 1PB877 and 1PB878 (as found in Univac keyboards) is now clear: the former is one-shot and the latter is continuous. This exactly corresponds to the use of pulse and level switches in SW and SD Hall effect keyboards. While some PB types are electronically one-shot using an attached PCB, one-shot PB8* keyboard switches mechanically release the internal microswitch immediately after operation. The reason is not known, but it may be the same as with the Hall effect keyboards: a way to achieve N-key rollover.
Friday, 26th July
It turns out that there were at least three series of Digitran metal leaf capacitive switches. These are now collated on a new Digitran page. It also appears that Digitran’s metal leaf capacitive keyboards preceded those of Cortron by several years.
Saturday, 20th July
- As part of the process of documenting Micro Switch and Honeywell, some brief notes are now up on RX Series and WN Series rubber dome over membrane keyboards. Very little is known about the internals of these.
- Understanding of S-type three-letter Alps series names and model numbers is either clarified or muddied—depending on interpretation—by Alps SCB1A163, which has a “CB” PCB code, matching the model series of SCB. This casts doubt on the assumption that the Olympia CD 102 keypad PCB code begins “CH”.
Wednesday, 10th July
The ITW, Cortron and Licon page is updated with a list of Cortron and Licon keyboards and their part numbers, which clearly follow patterns.
Friday, 5th July
The National Museum of American History Library were so kind as to provided scanned copies of the two Micro Switch SW documents in their collection:
- Micro Switch Product Brochure SW: Solid State Keyboards, possibly March 1973
- Micro Switch Product Sheet 51SW12-1: Typewriter Keyboard, possibly August 1973
As a result of the growing amount of data on SW and SN Series, the SW/SN page is now split up:
- Micro Switch SW and SN Series overview
- Micro Switch SW Series keyboards and switches (includes the aforementioned documents)
- Micro Switch SN Series
The National Museum of American History Library has been inducted into the newly-opened Keyboard Hall of Fame.
Monday, 24th June
Edward Walsh is now consigned to the Keyboard Hall of Shame. All the sites run by people who don’t permit you to contact them get tiresome in themselves, but even more so when they hold knowledge that was never made available properly and they don’t let you enquire about it.
Saturday, 22nd June
While digging around for more Micro Switch information, I came across an article in Modern Data from December 1970 for Licon Series 550 keyboards and switches. This was the first time observing an official term for one of their products. Cortron themselves suggested some series names (although they have yet confirmed them from their literature), one being “55”. Further digging shows FC2500 to be another official term, which appears to be their DIN-compliant ferrite core keyboards, that eventually transferred to Devlin.
A brief page is now up on ITW, Corton and Licon with all notes so far.
Monday, 10th June
I am still working my way through Micro Switch’s keyswitch product range with the help of Honeywell. It’s now clear that SN Series comprised three subseries: 11SN (snap-in panel mount, both illuminated and non-illuminated), 101SN (self-adhesive PCB mount) and 201SN (illuminated version of 101SN). A list of 11SN Series types is up, with charts to follow once I have had time to redact them, as they are all engineering charts. These details may offer some insight into SW Series keyboard switches, which were intimately related to SN Series.
Sunday, 2nd June
UncleFan has rescued me from a blunder of Japanese translation. I misinterpreted Omron PRDN 389 as being a list of switch models, thinking that “キーボード形” meant “switch types suitable for keyboards” on the basis that all the part numbers began B2C, B2H or B2R.
He has since found Omron B2R-84E2L-602, and it is a keyboard, not a switch. Therefore, PRDN 389 is a list of discontinued keyboards, and now all the codes listed make far more sense! All the strange numbers in the middle are of course just the number of keys, analogous to how Micro Switch numbered their keyboards, using the same series names for switches and keyboards.
Saturday, 1st June
Based on all the charts from Honeywell, the Micro Switch SD Series page is extensively updated with all new details on the series.
Thursday, 30th May
Another jackpot! This time, Honeywell have turned up 13 charts from SD Series, dating the series all the way back to 1975 (although the official start of sale date is not confirmed). The charts do not answer every question, but they shed a huge light on the series. All 13 charts are posted both in a collated PDF and as a zip file of all the separate high-quality TIFF images.
Tuesday, 28th May
Following the unexpected discovery of an older schema of Micro Switch SD Series switches, it seemed worth giving Honeywell another try to see if they could locate any details on their old switches.
Details are scarce with the series having been discontinued nearly 20 years ago, but they were able to turn up a couple of drawings, one each for SW and SN Series, which has helped clarify a number of historical details. Most interestingly it shows that SW and SN appear to have been companion series from at least the period of 1995 to 1999, rather than SN having replaced SW. With luck, they may able to recover more documenation.
Monday, 27th May
I thought I read somewhere that Micro Switch SD Series was DIN-compliant, as highly unlikely as that seems. That would point to an introduction date of around 1982. Very little practical data gathering has taken place with SD Series, so off-hand it was hard to be sure. However, it is now clear that SD Series was in production as far back as 1976, as demonstrated by model 125SD12-1.
This keyboard uses an older part number schema, with one fewer position in the identification number, and seemingly at least one position with a different interpretation to the 1001SD Series schema found from 1998. One possibility is that the old switches were 1SD Series, and that 1001SD was chosen when revising the schema. This remains pure speculation.
Saturday, 11th May
UncleFan found an eBay listing for the Yamaha QX1 in which a broken Alps KCC switch could be seen. On Geekhack, the QX1 is noted to have “a linear switch found on the NRC f020 Yamaha qx3, and qx1”, which is Hirose MX1A-0NNN. As such, this machine seemed not to be worth further investigation, as the Cherry switch part number could be retrieved from the readily-available QX3 service manual.
However, having now purchased the QX1 service manual from Mauritron (to avoid hassling Yamaha further), I can now see that indeed the QX1 uses switch KCC10903, which is the model number I speculated it would be upon seeing the eBay listing. The switch can be seen more clearly on the Introvert’s Yamaha QX1 Retro Review, and is a standard KCC green momentary switch.
This now means that KCC lower-weight momentary uses old part number KCC10903 and new part number SKCCBK (as previously obtained from Eleport in Japan). This marks the very first Alps data entry switch type where we have both the old and new part number.
Tuesday, 7th May
Based on an unfortunately barely-legible copy of two pages of the May 1985 Fujitsu magazine (which cannot be posted online), the Fujitsu reed switches page is updated with more details on each of FES-5, FES-8, FES-9 and FES-4.
Saturday, 27th April
- Sandy has permitted me to have a copy of the 1994 Alps keyboard catalogue. The Alps series names and model numbers page is now updated accordingly. In particular, “KF” is found to denote “full keyboard”, completing understanding of the series split from three-letter series names (containing both keyboards and switches) to four-letter switch and six-letter keyboard series names. Membrane switches use KF codes instead of SK codes, since they are not discrete units. While this catalogue may not be published online, the 1993 catalogue has also been found, and once this is available, everyone will be able to review this information. (Tentatively it appears that the two catalogues contain the same keyboard switches, except for one additional membrane switch type in the 1993 catalogue.)
- Fujitsu reed switches are now moved to a separate page; very little is known so far, but cross reed is now confirmed to be FES-4 series from a blurry photo of a page from a Fujitsu magazine. More details will be forthcoming.
Tuesday, 23rd April
With the forthcoming 1993 Alps catalogue scan due from lsoelxi, I figured that I should ask Sandy to confirm whether the 1994 Alps catalogue really did give the series names of “CM” and “CL”, as this would revert a change to “SKCL” and “SKCM” by the time of the 1994 catalogue.
Sandy confirmed that “CM” and “CL” were his own abbreviations, and that the 1994 catalogue does name the series as “SKCL” and “SKCM” as expected.
This clears up one nasty point of confusion over the naming. Now we only have to figure out “CM(KCM)”, “CH”/“SCH”/“SCK”, and the new problem that the “KF” prefix—denoting “full keyboard”—was used for both keyboards and switches in the full-travel membrane line! This may become clearer when the whole 1993 catalogue is ready. Sadly the catalogue is not old enough to cover SKFN/SKFM series.
Sunday, 21st April
Saturday, 20th April
Wednesday, 10th April
Kiyoto has located a set of Japanese patents relating to Fujitsu leaf spring. I have tentatively reclassified the various leaf spring types according to the suggested chronology from these patents, but there is still a long way to go.
Monday, 8th April
My TESLA Hall effect switch and some TESLA keycaps arrived from 10ko in Bulgaria today. I have no idea what happened to the switch (the plunger has been sliced narrow and now it is quite wobbly) but the keycaps are intact, and these and the switch permit keycap mount comparison between Micro Switch, TESLA and Omron. These three brands have very similar keycap mounts that are almost but not quite compatible, for different reasons.
These types are now detailed under the new keycap mounts section. Unlike the existing keycap compatibility page, this section places each group of similar mounts on a separate page for simplicity and to permit more details to be recorded.
This section (like any other) will be expanded upon over time.
Saturday, 6th April
Kiyoto is on a roll. He has located a large number of Fujitsu datasheets on their site, including the datasheets for Fujitsu FES-360 Series, which is first-generation leaf spring. FES-360 Series is still in production, but only for existing customers. It seems to be a fairly small series, offering 59 cN momentary action only, although the oldest PDF for it is from 2001, so it may be that other models were long since discontinued.
Thursday, 4th April
Kiyoto (聖人) sent me a link to the datasheet (or catalogue entry) for Fujitsu FKB2500 Series. Although it does not offer any clear insight into Fujitsu’s naming and classification system, it does match the suggested naming arrangement listed under Fujitsu keyboard series. It also offers the first specifications on a Fujitsu mechanical switch type.
Monday, 1st April
Posted a list of keyboard types discovered to date in Roland and Yamaha service manuals, along with Yamaha non-keyboard types. The Roland non-keyboard types will be added later when time permits. This page represents some of the raw data already presented under Alps series names and model numbers.
Also included is the first confirmed instance of an Hirose Cherry M83S, specifically the standard part M83S-0N00 as found in the Yamaha QX21 (1.5 mm travel version).
Sunday, 31st March
As noted under wiki errors, US patent 4529849 is incorrectly cited as being the patent for second- and third-generation leaf spring. In fact, it is the patent for the membrane leaf spring types. Membrane leaf spring has been mentioned at least once—as “4th gen Fujitsu leaf spring”—but not depicted.
Kiyoto in Japan has demonstrated that the Fujitsu FMR-30BX has a moulded Fujitsu membrane leaf spring keyboard, as documented in the patent. It is possible that the integrated-membrane type shown in the patent was changed to use a modified form of the existing contact assembly from the original leaf spring switches.
Thursday, 28th March
- Added a brief page on Cherry M8, MD and MJ series, along with the end-of-life notification for M8 and M85.
- Added all the M8 types from the end-of-life notification to the Cherry parts page, along with the custom MX types and the two known M9 types.
- Updated the M8 schema and common schema pages to reflect the fact that German custom M8 types are now confirmed to exist (as given in the end-of-life notice).
Sunday, 24th March
The Fujitsu date codes and Fujitsu keyboard series pages are both updated with additional examples. In the latter case, this includes 3100 and 3700 (ultra-flat leaf spring keyboards), 8000 and 8200 (tall reed), 9200 (reed that might be shorter) and 2300 (third-generation leaf spring). 2700 is removed for now, as it referred to a single photo that did not show the switches.
Thursday, 21st March
Having received two SN Series switches from STRONIC in France (101SN11 and 201SN1B1, with the latter in its original packet), it has become clear that these are identical to SW series, except for having a base to hold them together for PCB mounting.
Wednesday, 20th March
Since the SMK series and part numbers page does not offer any illustrations, a separate SMK series page is now posted with illustrations of the known series, mostly taken from SMK’s catalogue pages. In particular this includes KBS03 Series, the membrane-based alternative to the better known KBG family (which looks similar but uses conductive domes over a PCB).
Sunday, 17th March
Finally written up and illustrated the dual-magnet tactile and click mechanism of the Omron B2H-F7W Hall effect switches that I obtained in September last year.
Sunday, 10th March
Re-inspection of the Hirose M83S, M83A, MD and MJ series datasheet shows that the force figures are not indicating the permissible manufacturing range, but in fact the tolerance (as recently determined for US M4/M5/M6). The Cherry common schema page along with the MD and MJ schema pages are updated accordingly. The range for MD, 50〜80 gf, comes out at 65±15 gf, and 65 g is what the Epson PX-8 Technical Manual gives for its standard weight MD switches.
Saturday, 9th March
MEI T-5 subseries T-5D has since been confirmed to exist, and is presently on order from Datalux. Once these arrive (Brexit willing) it will be possible to see what they are.
Friday, 8th March
- Phosphor bronze is added to the materials page, under a new spring materials section.
- There is now a Hi-Tek/NMB section; more will be added later. The details of the liquidation of Minebea keyboard subsidiary Shanghai Shunding Technologies Ltd is moved from now deprecated factual nuggets page.
Wednesday, 6th March
- The MEI T-5 page is updated with a list of currently available parts (all on order from Datalux) and the part number schema.
- Tenite™ is added to the materials page.
Tuesday, 5th March
- There is now a Micro Switch/Honeywell section. At the moment this comprises a single page put there to contain the theory that SD16 series corresponds with switches whose sub-part number begins “16” (as found in MouseFan’s Sun Microsystems SD keypad).
- Vintage ABS notes are moved from the deprecated factual nuggets page to the materials page.
Sunday, 3rd March
- List of confirmed MEI T-5 parts added.
- Added a brief page on Clare-Pendar Series S880, to have somewhere to put the link to the YouTube video showing an excerpt from Electronic Design magazine that mentions it.
- Added also a page for Clare-Pendar Series S820.
- Added a section on “PWB” to the Alps keyboard codes page.
- Posted a brief history of Mechanical Enterprises, along with a list of relevant patents and what they apply to.
- MEI Mercutron page is added, listing the patents and what they appear to correspond to.
Saturday, 2nd March
Added newly-discovered T-5V subseries to the MEI T-5 page.
Friday, 1st March
- LFW is now confirmed to be a series (LFW-CT will be a switch model).
- Mechanical Enterprises page updated with the newly-discovered switch series: Mercutron family (including M-5), LM, and LFW (changed from LFW-CT).
- “WEAB” is added to the mysteries page, as years are passing and it remains persistently unresolved.
Thursday, 28th February
- Added the first mention of MEI LFW-CT.
- Added a mention of Don Lancaster’s 1976 book TV Typewriter Cookbook to the T-5 page also, as “T5” gets a mention there (giving us a low water mark for age).
Tuesday, 26th February
- There are now separate M4/M5/M6 schema and M7 schema pages, for convenience, as these are two separate series.
- Explanation of weight ranges for US M4/M5/M6 switches (they refer to tolerance and approximately match the German tolerances).
Sunday, 24th February
- Added the Clare/GI/Pollak/Electro-Mech CAGE code (97564) to the Clare/Pendar page to clear up the mystery of that number marked on switches.
Friday, 22nd February
- Alps OEM model numbers page uploaded, albeit with just two items for now.
Tuesday, 19th February
- Initial list of Key Tronic product codes posted, in an attempt to understand their structure or meaning.
Saturday, 16th February
- Added Newtech YMW, GoldStar YYWW, Intel YWW and Mitsubishi YYWW to the IC dates page along with a copy of the image grid from the Keycombo dating page.
Wednesday, 13th February
- IC dates page updated following determination that Texas Instruments’ three-digit date format represents YWW as expected.
Tuesday, 12th February
- Added a page on Mitsumi models, derived from the list previously posted to the wiki, and extended to cover KCD-A65YU (found in the Commodore SX-64).
Sunday, 10th February
- HFO added to the IC dates page.
- Alps series names and model numbers page updated to note that CM series may have also been called KCM.
- Added a page on Alps PCB codes; for now this is just a stub, but the Olivetti 11K code incompletely documented at Deskthority is moved to this page.
- Added a very brief page on http://telcontar.net/KBK/Oak Series 400.
Saturday, 9th February
- Started a page on IC date information, to help people date ICs and thus keyboards and indeed other equipment. More formats will be added over time.
Sunday, 3rd February
- Travel and hysteresis mentioned on the glossary page, as well as on a new Travel, actuation and hysteresis page (the latter being mostly created just to have somewhere to report on the useful information from the General Instrument S700 Series patent).
- Honeywell mount added to the keycap mounts page (as there is a patent for it).
- Switch design characteristics page updated with a brief mention of buckling rubber sleeves, as there is a 1970 patent for those, too.
- Added a brief guide to reading the header fields of Japanese patents.
Wednesday, 30th January
Tuesday, 29th January
- Added a page on SAGEM keyboards.
Sunday, 27th January
- Added a page on common keyboard switch characteristics to help with lay identification purposes.
Friday, 25th January
- Glossary updated.
Sunday, 20th January
- Added a page on TGL standards.
- Added a page on the HFO B 461 G Hall sensor IC used in RFT and RAFI switches.
- Updated the RFT TSH 19 page with brief details on the two variants.
Monday, 14th January
- Started a page on East German manufacturer RFT.
- Started a page for RFT TSS reed switches.
- Added a stub page for RFT TSH 19 Hall effect switches.
- Use of rhodium as a contact material is now mentioned on the materials page.
Saturday, 12th January
- Materials page gains a recreation of Cherry’s contact material selection chart as well as some additional details on material choice.
Wednesday, 9th January
- Updated the Cherry MX page with the years from Hirose.
- Updated the Cherry M7 page with Hirose’s M5 and M6 years.
Sunday, 6th January
- Added MX Olympia Linear Clear to the MX variants page, and revised the page a little.
- Changed the Cherry MX notes page to be the main Cherry MX page, and added a brief table of historical occurrences relating to MX.
Wednesday, 2nd January
- Updated the Cherry gold crosspoint/M7 design page with illustrations and greatly expanded content.