The 84-Key IBM AT keyboard (the one with a visibly separated numbers block but without dedicated cursor keys, with ESC and a dedicated SysRq key in the numbers block) seems to be the rarest of the old IBM PC keyboard styles today, probably because it was replaced by the 102-key "MFII" keyboar rather quickly. I wonder - was it ever cloned? And did non-US national variants of this keyboard exist?


3 Answers 3


The IBM AT Technical Reference Manual of 1984 lists a few variants (p. 4-16):

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The company I worked in then certainly had the UK keyboard, with the pound sign on the 3 and the hash symbol to the right:

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It is rare indeed, and international versions are probably even rarer.

There are non-US variants, one example is the French version, see https://www.jeuxvideovintage.com/index.php?title=IBM_PC_AT_84_key_Model_F_AZERTY_keyboard_%28clavier_IBM_mod%C3%A8le_F_Azerty%29

I seem to remember that also German and Swiss versions existed, but I don't have a reference for this.


The question mentions “clones” of the 84-key IBM AT keyboard.

One such “clone”, or near-clone, was the 85-key keyboard designed by Amstrad for their line of PC compatibles — such as the popular Amstrad PC1512 / PC1640 models.

This, of course, depends on how you define a “clone”. The keyboard in question is clearly inspired by the original 84-key IBM design but used an incompatible keyboard interface in order to avoid patent issues with IBM. Amstrad’s keyboard design also adds, as a special feature, a digital, Atari-style joystick port, which produces special scancodes... the connector is on the back side of the keyboard and can be seen in the photos on this page.

According to the technical reference manual, the 85-key Amstrad PC keyboard was available in the US, UK, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish/Finnish, and Danish national layouts. I have personally used units which had the Swedish/Finnish layout.

(The PC1512 / PC1640 was an interesting PC clone in that it featured many custom solutions which did not quite become mainstream... such as a 4xAA battery compartment for the RTC and BIOS settings, the afore-mentioned digital joystick port integrated to the keyboard, a custom mouse and a custom mouse interface, and a colorful set of system floppies containing the Digital Research GEM desktop environment and GUI-based Locomotive BASIC, etc. Also, the system PSU was integrated to the monitor. See here and here for more information.)

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