IBM 4704 administrative keyboard a.k.a the Pingmaster is one of the most iconic vintage keyboards out there. After chasing it for over a year, I finally managed to acquire one.
The earliest appearance of the board was around 1983. In western markets, the IBM 4704 terminal came bundled with a 107-key Capacitive buckling spring keyboard. In Asian markets, it used to be sold with an Alps corporation-made keyboard with Chinese or Japanese legends. This model is a Chinese variant, and it was primarily sold in the Chinese market.
This board got attention among the vintage community when one person started selling a bunch of these NOS boards for cheap. They first sold the Japanese ones and then the Chinese. I believe this board came from that stock.
Build and features
The keyboard body is made of Plastic with a really nice grainy texture. It has thick Doubleshot ABS keycaps and a bunch of relegendables.
This keyboard has Alps SKCC green switches. These switches are infamous for being quite pingy, & hence the name “Pingmaster”. Alps SKCC green has the lowest weight among other SKCC switches, around 60 grams of force.
The board has exactly 33 relegendable keycaps, and the Numpad is in the middle section instead of being on the right. However, I switched that to have a more modern look.
The whole board has only one wire stabilizer, You guessed it right, it is
the Spacebar. Other larger caps such as
Shift and bottom
stabilizer inserts instead of a wire stabilizer.
The back of the PCB was covered by a layer of unknown material probably aluminum, I couldn’t say for sure.
This board comes with a beeper/speaker that beeps every time a switch is actuated, I find it immensely interesting and funny. I doubt whether my co-workers would appreciate such a feature. The speaker is mounted on a speaker grill on the bottom case.
Another interesting feature is that the board has a scroll wheel to adjust the volume, and it gets quite loud when turned up 100%. The speaker produces a white static noise that is barely noticeable.
Luckily the previous owner of the board included a Hasu converter with the package. However, they forgot to declare it in the customs invoice while shipping, and that led to a 30 days customs holdup and 50$ fine.
The converter was already flashed and worked when I plugged it in. I used TMK(Written by Hasu) to reprogram it to a more personally layout. Here are the instructions I followed to reprogram it.
This is one of my toughest acquisitions so far, and I couldn’t be happier. The keyboard delivers and is one of the finest boards I have in my collection.