The Return of the Apple Extended Keyboard

July 24, 2004 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Macintosh | 6 Comments

Apple not only makes superior computers and operating systems, but in the past, they made excellent “tactile user interfaces” (i.e. keyboards). The Apple Extended Keyboard is possibly the best keyboard ever made. It had mechanical keyswitches that made a satisfying clicking noise while typing and was very rugged. I used the same keyboard for 12 years on three different computers.

Unfortunately, it used the proprietary Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) which disappeared when I bought a G4 Cube in 2001. I then fully understood the complaints of those who felt that Apple’s USB keyboards felt mushy and weak. It was a lot harder for me to do marathon programming/writing sessions. I ended up ditching the Apple USB keyboard for a MacAlly keyboard; it was better, but still did not give the same feel as the Apple Extended. I knew I could get a USB-ADB adapter, but at $50-$60, it was more than what I was willing to pay.

Earlier this year, Mac veterans waxed poetic about the Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard, saying how it was just like the old Apple Extended. I was interested, but at $79 it was too much. Two weeks ago, web stores offered a USB-ADB Adapter and a used Apple Extended for $30. It was now getting to my price range and I started looking around. Last Saturday, I was able to pickup a USB-ADB adapter for $15. Even though the manufacturers website disavowed support for OS X, it worked without drivers and I was able to get my 15-year old ADB keyboard working. Let me tell you – it really feels great typing again on this “classic” which will join the IBM 3270 keyboard in the annals of computing history.

Technically, there were two versions of the Apple Extended. I have the original one with a concave surface and angular keys. The Apple Extended II had a more curvy surface and a “girly man” power key (with apologies to Governor Schwarzenegger 🙂 Either one is better than most USB keyboards.


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  1. … and the power key works! One minor point that shows Apple’s attention to detail is that the touch-type dimples were on the D/K keys instead of the F/J keys. It made sense since your middle fingers would be the first to touch the keyboard when going to your “home” typing position.

    When I get my next Mac, I’ll see if the new Pro keyboards are good enough. I doubt they will be.

  2. Even though apple has released the newer “pro” keyboards (even one that is wireless), I still would rather use the original adb keyboard. It just feels better on your hands and also much easier to clean.

  3. Yes, the price at that store is $29. I got mine as a customer return at Micro Center clearance sale. It’s not normally available at half-price 😦

  4. link above shows price at $29?


  5. I got the adapter at Micro Center. It’s a CompuCable mini-ADB. I’ve heard that the Belkin ones require special drivers.

  6. Thanks for your post. Where did you purchase the adapter?

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