Steve Jobs called it a battleship. As was his way, he enthusiastically promoted simplicity and ripped the function keys from an Apple Extended Keyboard whilst claiming that no one ever used them. Steve Jobs obviously never owned and used a copy of Quark Xpress with the ubiquitous function key overlay.
I’ve had a couple of the original Apple Extended Keyboards sitting around in my collection for a while now and I finally got around to ordering a Griffin iMate ADB to USB Adaptor so I could actually test and use them.
Many people like the later version, the Apple Extended Keyboard II, because of it’s height adjustment and slightly smaller footprint. But I like this one, the version one. You could defend against a Ninja with this thing and thats the kind of work place security confidence you just dont get from Apple, Logitech or Microsoft keyboards these days.
The Apple Extended Keyboard is relic from the late 80’s and I dont think this one has ever been cleaned.
A very dirty keyboard complete with vintage Apple Sticker
A disgustingly filthy Apple Extended Keyboard as this close up clearly demonstrates
lowendmac.com have a page with some info about the keyboard and pointers on cleaning it: The Legendary Apple Extended Keyboard
I took mine apart, as Lowend Mac describe, and gave it a clean.
Dusty grimy innards of the Apple Extended Keyboard
I wasnt sure exactly how to pry the keycaps off without damaging them. There is a tool available, but I thought I remembered just popping them off back in the day.
This ’90s Apple Service Source Document suggests prying them off with a screwdriver. Which I did, and it worked fine. Refitting them is pretty simple. The space-bar gives the most trouble as it has an extra peg as well as the stabilising bar, so it’s a bit tricky to wiggle it on just right without the stabilising bar falling away. Using a pair of tweezers to tease the stabilising bar into place helps.
Prying off the keycaps with a screwdriver
The keys I just soaked in a jug of hot soapy water. The case I lightly scrubbed in the kitchen sink with a tiny bit of cream cleanser and a non-abrasive kitchen scourer. Some people have suggested you can put it in the dishwasher and get it like new. But I wasnt really after a like-new result and was worried that it might damage the plastic. So the dishwasher approach wasnt for me. Soaking and a light scrub worked just fine. The only minor cosmetic issue is the space-bar; it must be a different plastic as it’s discoloured in a slightly different tone to the other keys. It’s not overly noticeable, and I’m probably only aware of it because I cleaned it all up.
Apple Extended Keyboard Keys soaking in soapy water.
The freshly cleaned original Apple Extended Keyboard in all it’s glory
I love this keyboard. Always have. I typed this up on it. The sense of typing is much more alive. Hitting return has a unique sound; you know you are making a new line. Delete actually has a sound to it thats also different to other keys. When you bang it back over a few characters it’s like a machine gun.
I’m keeping this keyboard. It’s staying on my desk.
My wife, who shares the office, has already complained about the noise. I might need to negotiate. I pointed out that she used to work in a studio with tons of these things banging away all day back in the 90’s. She countered that they always had the radio on and it was a noisy environment anyway. Maybe I just need bigger offices and more staff.
The Apple Extended Keyboard. It is so choice, if you have the means, I highly recommend you pick one up.