Socket 3

eBay Purchase #12 – Honeywell 101WN AT Keyboard


eBay Purchase Price: $20 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

Lately I haven’t been trawling through eBay until only just a few days ago. When I did this keyboard was found, known as a Honeywell 101WN.

In more recent times of owning 486 and early Pentium PCs, I didn’t find much in the way of keyboards. IBM mechanical keyboards have the reputation as being the best, with ones in excellent condition easily going for $200 or so, sometimes more. Alternatively I took the approach of picking up a couple of new Microsoft PS/2 keyboards, as they were cheaper and easier to find. These would then be plugged into an adapter to convert PS/2 to the old 5-pin DIN connector on the motherboard.

When I saw this keyboard for $20 that was really clean, and a reasonably good brand it seemed to me a good deal. I’d probably regard it as a mid-range keyboard for its time. Weighing at around 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds), the body made of thick plastic feels well constructed. Instead of mechanical keys, this utilises membrane switches with rubber domes. While still having that nostalgic clicky keyboard sound when typing, it’s not as distinctive as an IBM.

The label on the back has the date code of 9422, which I believe is to represent the first week of June in 1994. I did find online a magazine review dating back to February 1992, so this model was probably made for a good two to three years. In 1995 this and other keyboards were superseded to include the Windows key that we all have become so accustomed to, thanks to Windows 95. That meant the beginning of hitting the wrong key while playing a DOS game, inadvertently bringing up the Start menu with the game sometimes crashing in the process.

XT/AT system switch.

As you may have noticed, the label has details on a switch which allows it to be changed to either XT or AT system use. The switch itself is hidden undearneath as shown here. It was a rather common feature for early 1990s keyboards.

I gave it a whirl plugged into a 486 machine, and worked faultlessly. Playing a brief DOOM session, it just makes the experience so much more authentic. It’s how I remembered using DOS in my childhood.

PC Magazine in February 1992 reviewed several keyboards, including the Honeywell 101WN. Unsurprising the IBM Enhanced 101 Key Keyboard was their top choice. Included with their review of the Honeywell linked here, is an explanation as to the different varieties of keys.