The Keyboard Company
The Keyboard Company was an American keyboard manufacturer set up by Michael Muller of Datanetics at the behest of Steve Jobs, to serve as Apple’s keyboard supplier. Datanetics already produced keyboards for Apple but Jobs wanted a separate company dedicated to Apple.
Michael Muller provided a write-up of the company, although not all of the details are accurate. The company was registered on the 4th of May 1979. Apple2000 Souvenir Edition 1980-1990 notes on page 24 that Apple bought the Keyboard Company on the 1st of April 1982, and that on the 7th of June that year, the Accessory Products Division will offer two new printers, this being after the point that the Keyboard Company was renamed the Accessory Products Division. Creative Computing Magazine vol. 8 no. 8 from August 1982 indicates that the Keyboard Company name changed to Apple Accessory Products Division. The California Secretary of State website does not carry detailed company information, so this cannot be verified independently.
Apple later sold off the Accessory Products Division to Alps Electric. The factories in Garden Grove in the US and Millstreet Town in Ireland transferred to Alps.
US patent 4418257 “Keyboard switch”, filed in November 1981, depicts a keyboard switch designed by the Keyboard Company, that has yet to be encountered. The design is highly reminiscent of Alps KEH Series, and the two designs appear to be contemporary. Like KEH, the Keyboard Company’s switch is elastic contact with a spring over the rubber dome for pre-travel. However, KEH is linear, while the Keyboard Company’s design is tactile. Further, their design uses a separate conductive elastic diaphram (similar to a metal dome contact but made of rubber) and two coil springs instead of one.
Apple used KEH switches in some Numeric Keypad IIe units, but this particular switch has not knowingly been seen.