Apple M0110 - Praise from the future is utterly meaningless

Apple M0110 - Praise from the future is utterly meaningless


6 minute read

Apple M0110 - Praise from the future is utterly meaningless

【Apple M0110】Despite the multitude of imitators in the future, users who possess the original M0110 are few and far between.

Today, let's share the legendary Apple M0110 keyboard.

Apple M0110 keyboard

Essence

Apple M0110 keyboard

Keyboard body and original connecting cable. Just received, no cleaning done.

Apple M0110 keyboard

Completely removed the arrow keys because Steve Jobs preferred users to use the mouse for clicking rather than the traditional arrow keys for navigation.

Turn to the back, and you can see the product information label and the prominent engraving of "Apple Computer, Inc." Yes, Apple started as a computer company.

The switches use Apple's specially customized SKCC extended center milk switches, with a pivot color close to a creamy hue.

The physical lock mechanism, which has disappeared into history, achieves the locking effect through the movement of internal metal wires.

The keycaps are made of relatively thick PBT material, with additional thickness applied to larger keys like Shift, especially Spacebar, which weighs 12.6g.

From left to right, there are the host interface and the anti-theft lock latch. The anti-theft lock latch can be directly connected to the host with a steel cable (though it can still be stolen along with the host, so...).

I initially thought it was something like a floppy drive connector, but upon disassembly, I found there were no PCB or cables connected to it.

You can see that, except for the Spacebar, the other larger keys lack a stabilizing structure.

Continue disassembling, desolder all the switches.

A thick, folded steel positioning plate with excellent precision, providing a snug fit for the switches without wobbling or being too tight.

Well ahead of its time!

The Philips-manufactured main control chip is installed in an IC socket. Interestingly, my friend's chip not only has a different manufacturer and model but also includes a production date code, while mine lacks these details.

The only number within the entire keyboard that can be associated with a date might be from the 35th week of 1984 (early September) or possibly from March 5, 1984.

P.S.: It's worth noting that this PA company ceased to exist in the early 2000s, becoming a part of history.

Switches

The M0110 is equipped with SKCC Tall Cream switches produced by Japanese company ALPS Electric, which are extended tactile switches.

The structure is relatively simple, and the previously mentioned SKCL switches are quite similar. Even the actuation mechanism is mostly the same, with the slider sliding to compress a metal leaf, and the raised contact point on the metal leaf then presses two layers of metal leaf inside the plastic enclosure to make electrical contact. The main difference is the elongated stem in the case of the M0110 switches.

3.5mm total travel, 70g actuation force, 110g bottom-out force – this belongs to the heavy-duty, tactile switches favored by power users. The force curve is as shown in the figure.

The SKCC family comprises fewer than 10 types of switches, excluding the lock switches, the rest are all linear switches, differing in terms of actuation force and stem shape. The feel is quite smooth, with a straightforward up-and-down motion, but it doesn't have a distinct personality. What sets it apart is the distinctly hifi sound of the keystrokes (the bottom-out and rebound sounds are crisp), yet it's also very non-hifi due to the pronounced spring resonance, which is a unique feature.

Among these is the SKCC Green, which is commonly referred to by experienced users as the "chive" switch on the IBM 4704, known as the "Pingmaster." The term "ping" refers to the resonance sound of the spring. It's important to differentiate here: MX's so-called spring sound initially refers to the noise produced when compressing the spring, which is a sign of poor manufacturing quality. In contrast, the spring sound of SKCC occurs after the spring rebounds and resonates with the entire keyboard enclosure. It is not significantly related to the quality of the spring itself. I attempted to replace the SKCC with the shorter springs from Box switches, but the resonance sound still persists.

If you need to clean and lubricate them, disassembly is quite convenient, but you should be cautious as the bottom shell's latches are fragile. Lubrication requires only a thin application, and I would recommend using slightly lighter-weight springs.

Adapting to modern computers

Due to the age of the original M0110, its interface protocol is certainly different from modern computers. The keyboard comes with a coiled cable that physically resembles the telephone cords we used in our homes in the past. Such a physical interface is definitely not supported by recent motherboards, and considering Apple's unique approach, they've completely reversed the pinout definitions.

So, to "revive" it, you would need to purchase a vintage Macintosh computer.

With the help of a friend, I managed to obtain an interface conversion board. Thanks to Mr. 42.

In addition, you would also need a Pro Micro board, which is quite simple.

Following this direction, you would solder the two together. The solder pads correspond one-to-one, so as long as the orientation is correct, you won't make a mistake.

Turn to the back because you're using the original cable. You need to fill the four solder pads on the Mac side with solder. If you're using a cable that was purchased separately, you would need to fill the four solder pads on the bottom side. This way, you'll have the correct wiring sequence.

However, at this point, your Windows or Mac computer still won't be able to recognize what device you've connected. You will also need to flash the firmware.

Firmware URL: http://www.tmk-kbd.com/tmk_keyboard/editor/

Select the corresponding M0110 layout (it displays the 0110A layout, but you can ignore the extra pad area).

Customize it to your liking, or you can create multiple layers of key configurations (it displays the 0110A layout, but you can ignore the extra pad area).

Once you've configured it to your satisfaction, simply click "download" (you might need to use a VPN). Rename the file to "Apple M0110" or any name you can easily remember, and it will automatically generate a .hex file.

Next, connect the converter, open QMK Toolbox, select the firmware you just downloaded, press the black button on the converter, click "Flash" on the interface, and wait for the flashing process to complete.

At this point (if you're using a Mac), the Keyboard Setup Assistant will automatically pop up, indicating that your computer has correctly recognized your keyboard.

In this way, the M0110 is reconnected to a Mac computer after nearly 40 years.

But our story isn't over yet.

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