Use This Adapter to Connect a Retro Keyboard to Your Modern Computer

As far as the average person is concerned, the keyboard they use doesn’t really matter. But for those of us who take typing seriously, our keyboards are very important. While there are certainly many high-quality mechanical keyboards on the market today, many people still prefer retro keyboards like the legendary IBM Model M from the ’80s. However, those often require ports that are no longer in use today. Fortunately there is a solution, and you can use this XTiny adapter to connect XT/AT keyboards to a modern computer’s USB port.

Many vintage keyboards from the ’80s and ’90s, including the IBM Model and Model F keyboards, utilized either the XT or AT interface. Even if your computer today has a PS/2 port, it isn’t as simple as rewiring the connector — the protocol is also different. That’s why this XTiny adapter is necessary. It accepts the connector — a large 5-pin DIN — from a keyboard that has the XT or AT protocol, and has a micro USB-B port for output. All you have to do is plug your keyboard into the XTtiny, and then connect a USB keyboard from that to your computer and you can start typing in retro style.

To accomplish that, the XTtiny board utilizes a Microchip ATmega32u4 microcontroller — the same one found in the Arduino Micro and Leonardo development boards. That microcontroller processes the input from your vintage keyboard, and then repeats it out through the USB port to your computer. When connected to your computer, it will show up just like any other HID USB keyboard. If you want the XTtiny adapter, it costs just $19.99 through the Future Retro Tindie store. However, it is currently out of stock, so you’ll have to join the wait list to get one.

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Author: Cameron Coward

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