Enhance your ZX Spectrum with this glorious backlit keyboard

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/12/enhance-your-zx-spectrum-with.html


A thing of beauty is a joy forever. I can still hear that tidy little click :slight_smile:

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“I replaced the keyboard on my Speccy!”

“Good idea – you went for a full travel mechanical keyboard, I assume?”

“No, I stayed with the rubber chicklet type – but this one lights up!”



Fabulous! Now, please please, make some case mods for my Sinclair C5 too.


my what now

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I never had a Speccy. Would have loved something like this for my VIC-20 or C64.
(It was a close race between the ZX81 and the VIC-20. In the end the keyboard was the deciding factor. It also made it easier to sell the thing on my parents. Yes, it’s a real computer, not a toy. Yes, I want to use it for school… And after the VIC-20, the C64 was inevitable.)

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I have visual impairment issues and I’m looking for suggestions for a USB Windows keyboard that is brightly backlit like this, with high-contrast large-print keys, preferably with black text on white keys like this one.

Mechanical or semi-mechanical keys preferred, on a keyboard that is not crap, and not more than $50 US. Due to arthritis and nerve damage in my hands I’m not a touch-typist and really need to be able to tell the keys apart to hunt and peck them, especially in low lighting situations.

Most backlit gaming keyboards emphasize the gosh wow factor over legibility, and the less expensive backlit keyboards tend to be crap. I don’t want to go down the elite mechanical keyboard rabbit hole that @beschizza keeps tempting us with however. I honestly can’t afford it.

Any suggestions matching most or all of those criteria would be greatly appreciated. This issue has been a challenge for me that I have yet to successfully resolve.

Thank you.


As a recovering zx81 victim, I can confirm you made the right choice.

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I’ve always found it interesting how the 8-bit era differed between the UK and the US. The BBC Micro, the Speccy, the Acorn machines, for the most part none of them made it across the Atlantic except for the ZX-80/81 and a modified Beeb, and those didn’t fare so well. I guess the difference in analog TV standards didn’t help back in an era when a TV set was your monitor, and in the case of the Sinclair machines, the membrane keyboards didn’t help, either.

One unfortunate thing that happened (which I was reminded of here), is that with the move away from the 8-bit machines, we’ve mostly lost the idea of having an easily accessible and easy-to-learn programming environment available on boot, especially on mainstream systems. There’s nothing like a BASIC (or Python for today’s era) environment present when you boot a Windows or MacOS system. While the Raspberry Pi with Raspbian corrects this to a great degree, it’s not something that the lion’s share of people are going to encounter unless they’re already hobbyists or use it in school.



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You also had the incompatible Timex TS2068, loosely based on the Spectrum 48K

If I remember correctly, the Sinclair machines also didn’t pass FCC regulations.



I haven’t seen a black on white keyboard with backlighting, but the Azio Vision USB keyboards have large white text on black keys and are backlit - round about $29.

If you can settle for no backlight, but want black text on white keys, there are the Nuklz large print keyboards which are around $20. Or the Accuratus Monster 2 which is much the same, but a bit more money.

All are available on Amazon.



I’ll check them out, thanks!

Have you tried asking on the deskthority or r/mechanicalkeyboards forums? Unfortunately, I suspect that “not crap” and “not expensive” don’t have a very large overlap. The only professional (non-gamer) backlit mechanical keyboard I know of offhand is the CODE keyboard, which starts at $150 US. They sometimes have open box ones for $120. WASD keyboards lets you customize the wazoo out of their offerings, so write them and ask if you can get one in white with black text.

Main store:

Open box:

Forum links:



As a matter of fact I was just looking through /r/MechanicalKeyboards for mentions of backlit models. Someone also mentioned that /rBuildaPC might be a good sub to check too.

Thanks for the links and solid leads!

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