8BitDo Releases Reimagined IBM Model-M Keyboard for Retro Enthusiasts

Few computer keyboards are as iconic, as influential, or as beige as the IBM Model-M — no surprise then that it’s been given a modern reimagining by 8BitDo.
Following on from their Nintendo NES and Famicom and Commodore 64 homages, 8BitDo has unveiled its latest retro-inspired mechanical keyboard. This one pays tribute to a true computing classic: the IBM Model-M keyboard.

Lest anyone familiar with the real thing™ getting too excited I’ll mention up front that 8BitDo’s Keyboard-M is a mechanical keyboard, using Kailh Box V2 white switches (swappable, of course) and not the buckling spring mechanism synonymous with the original.
On Linux you can enable a buckling spring sound effect for every key press though, should you buy this and want the clatter to accompany it!
To crib a bit of history from Wikipedia, the IBM Model-M was introduced in 1985 and produced until 1996. Its popularity (it came with the IBM PC) meant “almost all later general-purpose computer keyboards mimicked its key layout and […] ergonomics.“
Now, I’m not personally familiar with the original keyboard. I’ve never seen or used one. Those who have might be miffed that 8BitDo’s Keyboard-M is not a straight up licensed 1:1 clone of the original.
Instead, like others models in its range of retro-throwbacks, 8BitDo reinterprets the design through modern eyes.

New device re-imagines a classic, not remake it
To my eyes, the translation feels balanced; the most obvious design cues are present, including key height, a boxy power status LED area, colours, profile angle.
And despite not having a buckling spring mechanism built-in to it the iconic curvature across the key tops is sort-of present when viewed from the side:

the 8BitDo Keyboard-M in profile
Modern affordances and part-sharing with other keyboards in this range to do mean there are jarring differences that dilute the overall “vibe”.
There are more keys, especially along bottom row, which with the narrower borders give the keyboard a compact and more boxy look. The original Model-M felt wide, even in the ‘space saving’ variant. 8BitDo’s take also omits the inset/curved out ‘valley’ the keys sat in.
Like 8BitDo’s other retro keyboards you can use this over Bluetooth, 2.4G wireless (USB adapter sits underneath), or wired. It has a built-in rechargeable 2000mAh Li-on battery that’s good for 200 hours between charges.
But unlike its other offerings the 8BitDo Keyboard-M only supports Windows and Android. It does not support macOS or iOS. That may mean it doesn’t play nice under Linux either (others models work OOTB though the official configuration software isn’t available).

Optional number pad available (which is also an LED calculator)
More details on the 8BitDo Keyboard-M product page and if you’re in the states you can pre-order the 8BitDo Keyboard-M from Amazon US from $99.97, with shipping expected to start in a few weeks.
It’s also available to pre-order on Amazon UK for £85.
All other variants also still in stock (at the same price) on Amazon and a few other places.
On a related note, 8BitDo has also announced optional ‘Keyboard Extensions’ owners can buy to pair to pair with their retro-style mechanical keyboards, including individual ‘super button’ controllers (all keyboards come with a 2-button controller), joystick, and AXBY keypad.
They’ve also created an optional number pad extension (which also works as a literal calculator) for each of these keyboards. Those are up for pre-order on Amazon US too priced at $45.

So yeah, another mechanical keyboard that to appeal to those who grew up computing in the 1980s. Here’s hoping the next one reinterprets my first keyboard: a V-Tech! 😉

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