Some of the most common questions and Google search queries that we receive are:
Question: I have an old IBM AT or IBM 1390120 or 1390131 and it has a black cable and thicker than ps/2 connector at the end. Do you sell something that I can use to connect to my modern USB laptop.
Answer: Yes, you can use a combination of a 5-pin DIN to ps/2 passive adapter along with the ps/2 to USB converter that we recommend in combination.
Question: How do I connect my favorite 5-PIN DIN keyboard to a new computer that only has USB ports?
Answer. Older computer keyboards typically use a ps/2 connector (round connector with 4 or 6 pins). If you want to connect your older keyboard to a new PC you will need to physically change the ps/2 plug to a USB plug (rectangular, flat connector).
Question: My cheap ps/2-USB green or purple adapter is not auto-detected by Windows plug and play and I can’t get it to work. Where can I download the drivers?
(typical examples of passive ps/2 to USB adapters that are not true ps/2 to USB signal converters)
Answer: The vast majority of commonly available ps2 to USB converters are simple passive ADAPTERS that simply change the plug shape to match the outlet. These ADAPTERS only function to connect the ps/2 wires to the approximate USB wires. Simple ps/2 to USB adapters do not use specific software drivers.
In general, most users having trouble connecting their keyboard to newer computers are looking for a ps/2 to USB signal CONVERTER. These devices use an integrated circuit (pre-programmed chip) to actively translate the ps/2 keyboard signal and convert it into a USB keyboard signal.
This allows the vintage ps/2 keyboard to be automatically recognized by the operating system as if it were a standard, modern USB keyboard. A well-designed active ps/2 to USB converter will use the built-in operating system drivers for a USB keyboard (for example in Microsoft Windows XP, kbdclass.sys and kbdhid.sys).
Question. Why do some ps/2 to USB converters work better than others.
A. While ps/2 to USB converters may all look the same externally, it is important to be able to understand the internal differences and quality of materials used.
The majority of ps/2 to USB converters on the market are cheaply made and to save on parts cost, they use cheaper COB (chip-on-board) tech *A bare chip that is mounted directly onto the printed circuit board (PCB). After the very wires are attached, a glob of epoxy or plastic is used to cover the chip and its connections.
cheap chip-on-board design. Very fine conductive wires covered in black blob epoxy, not recommended
A bare chip that is mounted directly onto the printed circuit board (PCB). After the very fine wires are attached, a glob of epoxy is used to cover the chip and its connections.
In contrast, the better ps/2 to USB converters (the one that ClickyKeyboards.com after testing with hundreds and hundreds of IBM model M keyboards recommends) use an soldered integrated chip design with additional voltage regulation. These ps/2 converters have tested better over time and are less fragile than the COB ps/2 to USB adapters.
We recommend the soldered IC designed ps/2 to USB converter for use of legacy model M keyboards via the USB port on modern laptops/desktops. Will with with UHCI (USB 1.0), OHCI (USB 1.1) revisions as well as USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectors (full backward compatibility to UHCI/OHCI to support and not overscan or underscan signals from legacy keyboards).
confirmed to work well and to be durable over time for use with IBM model M keyboards
Microchip IC mounted on silicon and soldered directly to PCB. Recommended design for durability.
Question. Why can’t I just make the ps/2 physical adapter and USB converter myself. It must be a cheap and simple thing to do. I am teh 3733t hX0R.
A. If you are a master electronics technician with degrees in EE, you could of course take the time and money to do it yourself. see link for 36-page technical schematics and designer reference manual for MC68HC908JB8. (or you could just buy the pre-built adapter listed on our page)
Question: I am very familar with ’puters and am good with a screwdriver and I know how to open my computer. Why can’t I buy an expansion card with a ps/2 port that fits into a PCI slot. I have seen these before on my computers at work and they must be readily available.
A. As a corporate IT admin and systems engineer in real-life, I have seen Dell computers with ps/2 ports on the back of computers where the PCI slot covers are. However, this specialized part sold by Dell (part# F3636) was only intended to be used with certain Dell Optiplex computers. This part does not actually plug into any PCI slots of the motherboard, but insteads uses a 24-pin ribbon cable to connect directly to a special connector on certain Dell Optiplex motherboards.
The keyboard interface is an elementary low-level device and it needs to be initalized very early during the boot process. Any true PC hardware geek with real-world experience knows that the PCI bus is not setup and cannot be used to capture the type of direct, low-level I/O signals between the keyboard and computer.
Question: Why is it so hard to find an USB adapter that will make a vintage IBM keyboard interface with a modern Intel motherboard.
Answer: Online reports indicate that vintage IBM ps/2 keyboards pull up to 25x-40x more current compared to modern keyboards. see references: (http://swvincent.com/ibm-model-m-power/index.html, http://web.archive.org/web/20080228180642/http://www.geocities.com/jszybowski/keyboard/index.htm). One way to resolve this problem to add resistors to change the voltage, or an easier non-destructive fix is to use an active ps/2 to USB plug-in converter with built-in electronics.
See also the following hack on how to integrate the ps/2 to USB controller to make your own USB model M keyboard with a little soldering http://zevv.nl/play/misc/ibm-usb/
Question: Will this adapter / converter work with the extra buttons on my multimedia keyboard (volume control, sleep, check mail, go to WWW home page, more lotion)? Will it work if my keyboard uses a special software driver? Can you 100% guarantee and really, really promise that it will work with my hardware combination.
Answer. This converter / device will translate the basic set of 101-104 keyboard signals which are found on all keyboards. It will translate the signal from ps/2 to their USB equivalents. This device then uses the generic, built-in USB keyboard driver which allows the operating system to think that a USB keyboard is attached.
It does not translate and process the codes for the extra non-standard keys on multimedia keyboards. This device will work on basic set of 101-keys on an American English keyboard, but will also work with 102-keyboards (e.g,. various European layouts), as well as 104/105-keys (101/104 keys + windows keys). The computer will use the standard USB driver for a USB keyboard.
Unfortunately, due to the wide variety of combinations of different keyboards, computers, operating systems, user expertise, keyboard cable lengths, age of vintage hardware, etc. For example, previous buyers have found incompatability problems using this converter with the Microsoft Natural MultiMedia ps/2 Keyboard. We can NOT guarantee 100% compatibility and we do NOT offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but we do offer a standard 30-day simple return policy on all purchases.
The adapter/converter listed below is a simple and elegant solution to a very common problem.
Reader reports have said that this ps/2 to USB converter…
…works in Microsoft Windows 98, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 10 (32-bit and 64-bit).
Also works well with Apple Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) – 10.14 (Mojave). Allows for PC keyboard from 1987 to connect to Apple MacBook Pro and is recognized a standard ANSI (United States) standard 101-key keyboard.
…works well with some consumer-grade and most industrial rackmounted KVM switches
…works with other, older vintage keyboards which use the basic set of 101-keys, including older Tandy (Radio Shack), Northgate, Dell, Gateway, Zenith, Hewlett Packard (HP).
…works with other ps/2 keyboard-like devices such as barcode scanners, vintage game controllers, remote control pointers for PowerPoint.
…works so that it can be used early in OS boot process to access BIOS startup menus (must be supported in BIOS).