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So I've been whiling away some of a quiet Saturday night reading up on an early eighties computer called the Oric-1, which seems to be a curious little machine that has been largely unsung; moderately successful in its day according to the sales figures I'm seeing here, I never actually got to see one.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oric makes the following curious remark:

The Oric-1 improved somewhat over the ZX Spectrum's unusual chiclet keyboard.

As far as I can see in e.g. the photograph on that very page, the Oric-1 has a chiclet keyboard essentially equivalent to the ZX Spectrum. (Well, made of plastic rather than rubber? I would expect that to make either no difference or a slightly negative one.)

Did it actually improve on the Spectrum's keyboard? If so, how?

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    Primarily opinion based. After all, there even are those that think the ZX Spectrum keyboards not that bad. Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 9:55
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    If nothing else, it has more keys - separate DEL, cursor keys, square brackets, dot and comma. Also a bit more "standard" layout Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 10:14
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    One quantifiable aspect of the Oric's keyboard compared to the Spectrum's is that the letters won't rub off the keys due to heavy use. Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 12:32
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    @RadovanGarabik including a space bar, not a space button! I think the only advantage I can scrape up, key for key, is just that all the Oric keys are separate pieces of plastic, whereas the Spectrum’s rubber keys are all one single piece of rubber. So there’s less of one key press visibly pulling down the nearby keys. Clearly even Tangerine weren’t that happy with the keyboard though, since the Atmos is just a keyboard change over the Oric 1.
    – Tommy
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 14:37
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    All these keyboards (Oric 1, Atmos, Spectrum) are very different. The Spectrum was weird, but could be gotten used to; Oric 1 had pocket calculator type keys, which was very nice for typing single words, or playing games, but useless for typing texts. Both of these were membrane I think. Oric Atmos had a more normal keyboard (Stackpole?).
    – Tomas By
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 17:44

3 Answers 3

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Having both an Oric Atmos and both a rubber Keyed and later plus Spectrum I can tell you the the Oric keyboard is vastly superior with a firm and positive action to each key. The feel of the keyboard is not too far off the feel of a CBM 16 or 64 but not as good as the Acorn range .

The Oric physical size is also similar to the rubber keyed Spectrum too , the former is a little bit larger. Myself I always considered the Oric a "6502 based Speccy" although it's release was relatively erm "late to the party" compared to other 8bit machines at least in the U.K.

Want to mention too that I have owned and used Spectrums since 1984 although the Oric I have only had a few months.

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    Sure looks like a good answer to me.
    – RichF
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 17:00
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    Oric 1 and Atmos had completely different keyboards.
    – Tomas By
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 17:30
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The Oric-1 improved somewhat over the ZX Spectrum's unusual chiclet keyboard.

I guess the keyword too look for is "somewhat".

Did it actually improve on the Spectrum's keyboard? If so, how?

Well, much the way you already mentioned by having hard plastic caps instead of those rubbers. It gives a better feeling about pressing a key or not as all feedback comes from the mechanic, not the squishy keycap.

I would expect that to make either no difference or a slightly negative one.

It does, and it's a positive one. The same reason the Spectrum+ got a better feeling than the original one - if it wouldn't be for the lousy membrane they used with the plus.

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    it also had many more keys, the Spectum keyboard had only 40 keys. the Oric 1 seems to have about 57.
    – Jasen
    Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 20:51
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Having programmed on both, the Spectrum keyboard is much better.

The Oric 1 keyboard gave a positive feel with a hard click, but required force that became painful to use after a short while typing. You’d end up with ridged dents in the end of your fingers, like you get when you’ve been holding a pencil for too long, and need to take a break. It was a very hard click onto the solid backing, and no spring, making your wrists and finger joints hurt as well.

The Spectrums rubber keys had much less feedback but you could type for a while in reasonable comfort, albeit missing the odd keystroke if you hit the rubber off-angle.

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