I think therefore IBM
Posted on May 30, 2014
This IBM 6715 electronic typewriter, complete with cover and IBM_6715_User_Guide, came to me FREE courtesy of a lovely lady named Helen.
The same typewriter was also marketed as the “IBM Actionwriter” (which I suppose is better than a four-digit pin number).
As well as the lack of a name, the 6715 is also notable for its lack of a platen knob, but what it lacks in platen knobs it more than makes up for elsewhere.
A purist might argue that the 6715 is not, in fact, an IBM typewriter. He or she may cite the fact that it was made in Germany (but not by IBM Deutsche, in fact by TA Adler-Royal —the 6715 is the same typewriter as the TA Gabriele 9009 only with a different shell …
… and point out that the 6715’s ribbon cartridges and printwheels are compatible with other TA Adler-Royal clones such as the Xerox 6002 .
But when you actually see it in the flesh, when you actually type on it, you can tell it was engineered and designed for those who needed to be weaned off their much chunkier, heavier IBM Selectrics.
“Feature connector” for unspecified IBM equipment
Make no mistake, this machine is still heavy, is still chunky, is still an IBM.
It’s also the best electronic typewriter keyboard I’ve typed on.
Its keys are extremely tactile and very clicky. It’s German cousin the Xerox 6002 is faster and quieter (16 cps, 61 dB(A), but the 6715 has plenty of old-style charm, typing at a reasonable13 cps, and with a noise measurement of 63 dB(A).
Clearly, the keyboards used on these early ’80s -to-mid ’80s wedges were prototypes for the keyboards that were soon to be used with Personal Computers, and the keyboard that set the standard was the IBM Model M keyboard …
… a “buckling spring” keyboard that is still manufactured today thanks to a resurgence of interest in “clicky” mechanical keyboards.
While I’m not game enough to pull off the keycaps to confirm it, and could well be wrong, “buckling spring” pretty much sums up the typing feel of the 6715.
Like the IBM Model M keyboards that were manufactured around the same time, I suspect the keys of the 6715 are also made of PBT (“Polybutylene terephthalate”). PBT does not turn yellow from exposure to ultraviolet light, like ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic does, and is one of the hardest, most durable materials for keycaps.
Whatever they’re made of, and whoever they were made by … IBM-pressed!