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Think Retro: Apple's Adjustable Keyboard harkens back to the days of touch typing

Christopher Phin | Dec. 3, 2014
Does anyone keep their fingers on the home row anymore?

You could raise the Adjustable Keyboard on some feet at the back, although that too causes you to flex your wrists so isn't recommended.

Although I didn't use it split, I did write this using the Adjustable Keyboard, on my MacBook Pro running Yosemite. And even though it uses an old connection which Apple hasn't used since the blue and white Power Mac G3, it's really easy to connect up old keyboards like this one or the legendary Apple Extended Keyboard that the modern Matias Tactile Pro is designed in homage to.

Griffin Technology used to make an adapter called the iMate which would convert ADB keyboards to USB, and though the company politely and with some bemusement declined to send me one of these long-discontinued widgets, they're readily available on eBay.

Using it (for a standard piece of equipment like a keyboard) couldn't be easier. You just plug the ADB keyboard into one end and then plug it into a USB port on your Mac. The multimedia keys on this Adjustable Keyboard don't work, but everything else does, including the power key for bringing up the shutdown dialog. (You can replicate this on modern Macs by holding down Control and Eject.)

If you can't find an iMate or you fancy a bit of a challenge, you could always make your own adapter.

Even though I love this keyboard's quirkiness, and I think today not enough thought is given to ergonomics, as soon as I'm done here I'm going back to my Aluminum Keyboard. Pressing the keys on the Adjustable Keyboard feels like when you impersonate a T. Rex and take slow, exaggeratedly big steps. I don't type as fast and I make frequent mistakes, whereas on my Aluminum Keyboard, my fingers scurry across the keys like the evolutionarily favored shrews under the T. Rex's feet.

Still, it's undeniably charming, in a way that my Aluminum Keyboard isn't. Maybe I won't disconnect it just yet...

What was your favorite Apple keyboard? Do you still use it today? (Or do you think you might, now you know how easy it is to keep ADB keyboards in service?) Share your memories in the comments below!

 

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