iPad + an Apple ADB keyboard


While I’m waiting for my Incase Origami Workstation to arrive, a few nights ago I wanted to try something with my iPad. Admittedly, the inspiration behind my attempt comes from this article by Ben Brooks. Like Ben, I found the combination of iPad + a mechanical keyboard to be quite lovely. Having a good deal of old Apple mechanical keyboards, I wanted to try to come up with a similar setup, just for fun.

Time ago, I had tried connecting to my iPad the blueberry Apple USB Keyboard that came with the first iMac in 1998, by using the Camera Connection Kit accessory, but it didn’t work. The iPad complained that the device was not recognised, and indeed, typing had no effect.

So when the other night I assembled the contraption you see above, I really had no hopes it would work. As you can see, the parts involved are:

  • A third-generation iPad
  • The Camera Connection Kit for iPad
  • An iMate ADB-to-USB adapter
  • An ADB Apple Standard Keyboard M0116 introduced in 1987

As soon as the connection was established, I was surprised that iOS recognised and identified the iMate adapter — but it also gave the Device not supported warning. But the fact that the virtual keyboard wasn’t appearing when invoked gave me hope. I opened a text editor app (in this case the great Daedalus Touch by The Soulmen) and the keyboard was recognised right away. Once I got the layout right (I had to shift to English US), every key, modifier, and symbol were recognised correctly.

I won’t be using this setup when I’m out an about — it’s a bit cumbersome to carry around — but the experience felt really great, to the point that I ended up writing an article right there and then!

2 thoughts on “iPad + an Apple ADB keyboard

  1. I have just noticed that the “K” key on my Macintosh Plus Keyboard is a little bit higher than the others and it doesn’t have the same feel. Do you know how to fix this?

  2. Ryan — Apologies for the late reply. I wanted to unearth the M0110 keyboard with keypad that was given to me together with the original 128K Macintosh, to have a look at how the keys are put in place. I don’t know what’s happening with your “K” key: if such a thing happened to me, I would try to remove the key and see if there’s something lodged underneath the key itself or on the key switch that’s causing that key to behave/feel different. Keys on the M0110 keyboard can be a bit hard to pull out, and must be pulled out directly upwards, otherwise one risks breaking the piece of plastic that holds the key in place. Here are two photos showing how a removed key and the underlying mechanism look. I hope it helps…

    Key removed


    Key removed 2

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