Valuable Keys ⌨️

It turns out the keyboard I used when I was 11 years old is now seen as desirable among keyboard enthusiasts. Because I miss the old keyboard, I’m now part of the fad.

(Niels de Vries/Deskthority)

It’s often strange to think about what from your past can turn out to be of extreme value, but is too easily thrown away instead.

For example, when I was a kid, there was a year where a Sharp TV set with a built-in NES landed at Christmas. I used that TV for years—it was a way to play Mario and Final Fantasy, sure, but it was also just a TV set to me. Now, I see the TV show up all the time on YouTube channels that talk about its extreme value in the modern day. Nintendrew just did one.

And fittingly, it frequently shows up on auction sites selling for $1,500 or more (local pickup only, it’s too big to ship)—and apparently, the remote I used to tune in VH1 during that time is even more valuable; one is currently selling on eBay for $2,500.

This was interesting enough to learn when I was in my 30s. But one recent discovery of mine led me on a little bit of a quest.

See, when I was 11 years old, my family got its first home computer. I remember the specs vividly: It was a Laser 386SX/25 MHz model, with a built-in hard drive. That drive, just 40 megabytes in size, held very little, but it nonetheless was enough to intro me to GeoWorks, Windows 3.0, Wolfenstein 3D, and BBS software.

Eventually, we upgraded to a Packard Bell-based Pentium, which had a PS/2 port for its keyboard. I remember, vaguely, being surprised at how much worse the new keyboard was than the old one, which was quite a workhorse and much clickier. But it had a larger port, and wasn’t compatible. So we had to leave it behind.

Now, it turns out, decades later, this keyboard has gained a reputation of being a good keyboard among enthusiasts. Using a type of Cherry MX switches that aren’t used in the modern day, it has gained a reputation as being a good device in the keyboard enthusiast community. When it shows up on eBay, it can go for a few hundred dollars.

But I don’t care about any of that. I just want my childhood keyboard, the one I really liked, once again.

I’ve been trying to relive my 386 past in bits and pieces so I’ve been purchasing relevant parts here and there. So I’ve been keeping an eye out for the keyboard knowing it might go for a big price. Last week, I found a used version on eBay’s Buy it Now for a relatively low price, compared to what it’s been going for, and pulled the trigger.

Laser keyboard 1

A Laser 2269 plugged into a Laser 386.

So now I own the Laser 2269 keyboard—the same model I used at the age of 11. It showed up just last night. It’s an interesting experience, and benefits from well-worn keys (they’re white key switches, if you care). It’s a lot different from the far louder blue switches I usually use; they’re quieter, and feel like they’ve lived for a few decades.

I have yet to get it working on my modern machine—I need an adapter that is hard to get shipped—but the fact that I even found it is blowing my mind. I hope I get to write a few interesting stories on it soon; will keep you all updated.

Time limit given ⏲: 20 minutes

Time left on clock ⏲: 10 seconds

Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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