Strange C64 Keyboard

A broken Commodore 64C, with an Assy no. 250469 Rev. 4 short board, recently landed on my workbench (the repair job can be found here). The entire machine looks just like any other C64C machine I’ve put my hands on. Except for the keyboard! When compared to the general looks of a standard Commodore 64C keyboard several things are different as shown in this post. The keys are white and all prints are on top of the keys just as expected. However the size of the prints on some of the keys (i.e. RETURN and Function keys) looks more like the earlier keyboard versions which had parts of the prints on the key fronts. The machine still had the warranty seal intact so I guess it came with the original Commodore 64 machine.

Commodore 64C with a very strange looking keyboard.

The biggest visual difference is the size of the fonts on the RETURN and F keys. The key color is also a little more greyish compared to the standrad C64 keys. The plungers also look different. Instead of a cross shaped top they have a slit. The pictures show the different shapes of the plungers as well as the insides of the keys.

Commodore 64C keyboard with a different look.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking plungers.

The cables are connected at the same spots on both PCB types, except for the SHIFT LOCK key. The cable plug is also a little thicker compared to the standard plug.

Commodore 64C keyboard with a different look.

Commodore 64C keyboard with a different look.

The SHIFT LOCK housings are quite different. The standard C64 is white while the other is black and more bulky.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking plungers.

The cutouts of the black plastic shells are placed on opposing sides. Furthermore, the standard C64 keyboard PCB is from ‘Mitsumi’ while the other has ‘Action Rev B’ written on it.

Commodore 64C keyboard with a different look.

This is how it how the keyboards look in direct comparison. It’s like the plastic is a little different on the strange looking keyboard.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking keys.

An a few more close-ups.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange keys.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking keys.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking keys.

Commodore 64C keyboard with strange looking keys.

I do not know if this is particularly rare or if it’s just another one of Commodores notorious ‘let’s see what spare parts we have available today’ approach when assembling new machines… I just haven’t seen it before and thought I would share it. Feel free to comment on it if you know the whole story!

© breadbox64.com 2016

6 comments on “Strange C64 Keyboard

  1. Not sure if this info will help, or add to the confusion. I was on a Commodore forum a while back. I purchased some loose F-Keys from a gentleman over in Europe (I believe he was from the Netherlands). The keys I received were the same type. So I’m not sure if was a short run they had over there or what. But these were first type I had seen like this too. All the Vic-20, C64, C64c, and C16 Ive owned never had these type of plungers. Which reminds me I need to contact him back to get some plungers to fit these F-Keys.

  2. Thanks for sharing! You may be right about the ‘strange’ keyboard version being a European thing. I know for sure that the keyboard in my post was originally purchased in Denmark and I just noticed a British Ebay seller with another keyboard like that. Still puzzles my that they would make the plungers like that.

  3. Well, I’m from europe as well, and I have a C64C that was sold in Germany (“made in Hong Kong”, which is probably not unusual). My machine has the usual type keys, not the strange ones you discovered. It is also the first time I’ve come across that type of keys. So at least, even if it is just a European thing, it probably wasn’t the usual way they were here.

  4. I just got one with this strange keyboard. It is my 4th 64C, and I have never seen this keyboard on other mashines. The switch is a bit scrachy, but on the good side, the caps are REALLY thick and textured.

  5. Curious. The Shift Lock switch in the C64 started out as a non-keyboard switch, as Mitsumi seemed not to have needed or created an alternate action keyboard switch at the time. That panda switch in the photos is what seems to be Mitsumi’s first discrete, PCB mount keyswitch type, and these were rolled into the C64 keyboard during the C64’s production run.

    The black Shift Lock switch however is SMK J-M0404 series, and it would be uncharacteristic for Mitsumi to use a rival company’s switches. (With that said, I’ve seen Cherry microswitches inside an Alps-made Key Tronic mouse!)

    I don’t recognise that unusual keyboard, but if it’s a clone, they certainly seemed to have copied the Mitsumi slider design accurately, and normally when a keyboard is sourced from another supplier, you just get whatever switch type they happen to manufacture or buy in. It’s like Mitsumi themselves had it made at a different plant. Very odd.

  6. I actually have one of these machines with the larger style print on the return key.. These keys have the strange plunger head on them. I 3d printed a spare left arrow key from Thingiverse that has the same type of plunger connection. It still has the factory seal intact as well. Runs great! I live in Australia.

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