IBM 1386887: My first foray into terminal keyboards

1386887 is a 122-key membrane buckling spring (Model M) keyboard, for the IBM 3179 display station (a type of dumb terminal).

I have owned two of this part number, manufactured on the same day. I obtained them in July of 2009 after looking around on eBay for interesting IBM keyboards, and finding a 1386887 available from a seller in the same city. After a couple back and forth emails, I had two beastly keyboards, filthy and missing keycaps – but to my astonishment, totally free.

Nicknamed “super carrier” by another Geekhack member, in the context of 101-key IBM boards commonly being called “battleships” and new-style 122-key boards being “aircraft carriers”, as the old-style 122 has a larger case.

Over time, both boards developed reliability issues due to failure of plastic rivets. This necessitates a ‘bolt mod’, which I elected not to do. One unit was sold quite a while ago, and the other will be as well.

  • Identification: IBM part number 1386887, ID numbers 1016259 and 1016722, designated ‘Model M’, manufactured in USA by IBM 1986-10-16
  • Application: IBM 3179 display station
  • Connectivity: 240-degree DIN5 interface with fixed cable; not XT, AT or PS/2 compatible without alterations
  • Key layout: 122-key 3270-type layout
  • Keyswitches: tactile and ‘clicky’ buckling spring over membrane
  • Acquired: July 2009, local giveaway

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