Apple produced three versions of the IIc computer during its production run. These are the A2S4000, A2S4100 and A2S4500. The last one (A2S4500) was the IIc Plus which was quite an upgrade over the standard IIc. It provided a built in accelerator, 800k 3.5″ floppy drive and the entire power supply was now internal although it was limited to 110v only which is a bit of an embuggerance for us in 220v land. The IIc plus and the A2S4100 both had memory expansion connectors that allowed the memory to be easily upgraded but the best feature was that Apple built the keyboard using really nice tactile Alps keyswitches which feel really nice to type on.
Sadly, the earliest version which also seems to be the most common was fitted with a not quite so nice keyboard. If you have an Apple IIc and you don’t like the feel of the keyboard and it’s not as easy to type on as you think it should be, the chances are that you have an earlier IIc with this keyboard. However, it might be possible to make it work better!
Apple made the decision to fit two layers of rubber between the switches and the key tops to stop dust and other bits from getting into the depths of the keyboard. Unfortunately, in the 30 or so years since the machines were produced, this rubber has probably gone brittle and made the keyboard more difficult to type on and even causing keys to stick.
So, on to the fix…
- firstly, remove the 6 screws from the base of the machine (Two right at the back and the four under the keyboard)
- Release the clip from the front edge and slowly lift the top up. There are another two clips over the disk drive so be careful.
- With the top removed, lift the keyboard out, unplugging the ribbon cable.
- Now, with the keyboard removed you will need to remove each key top. I do this using a flat headed screwdriver under one end and supporting the other end with my finger. The key tops just pull straight off but it is important to keep them level while lifting so as not to break the stem.
- Once all the tops are removed, the top rubber layers should just lift off. You might even find that it just crumbles apart. The second layer is more durable and can stay in place.
- I usually give the keyboard a good dust out with a dry paintbrush at this stage and also wash the key tops in some warm soapy water.
- Once cleaned, simply replace the key tops and reverse the procedure to re-assemble the machine. This should be enough to make the keyboard work a lot better.
Note: While the above procedure has worked well for me on a number of occasions, other people have still had issues with sticky keys and have had good results by using a light machine oil on the small metal clips on the top of each switch or even removing these clips altogether.