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Kontron PSI 80 keyboard

I bought this cute vintage 60% Kontron PSI 80 a few weeks ago and decided it's time to clean it, investigate its interior, and share some photos.

Tamas Dovenyi
Published May 29, 2022
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I found this Kontron keyboard on a local marketplace. Don't want to clutter this post with the details of the purchase but I write about it in this week's editorial if you are interested.

Click to enlarge the photos in this post, and let's start with the "before cleaning" shot:

Pic: Kontron PSI 80 – before cleaning

Kontron PSI 80 – before cleaning


The Kontron PSI Ψ 80 was a compact microcomputer manufactured from 1981(?) by the German Kontron Mikrocomputer GmbH in Eching, near Munich (source).

The device was marketed in two variants (two different housings): a tabletop version and a rack-mounted one for industrial applications.

Pic: Kontron PSI 80

Kontron PSI 80

(Photo source: Hubert Berberich (HubiB))

I have only the keyboard, the seller knew nothing of the fate of the computer, so it isn't clear if this was part of the PSI 80 desktop or the PSI 82 industrial version.

If the sticker on the back of the board reflects the same nomenclature, that means this was the desktop one. But I'd guess they were shipped with the same keyboard.

Pic: Sticker on the back

Sticker on the back


A nice 60% (58 keys) layout with some cool legends (e.g. RUB OUT) and crazy arrow arrangement: left and right on the two sides of the spacebar, and up-down put into the upper right corner.


The keyboard has a plastic bottom plate, secured by six wood screws.

Pic: Sticker on the back plate

Sticker on the back plate

The construction is top mount, the black switch plate is fastened to the thick case by four larger screws via threaded inserts.

Pic: Case, plate, PCB, and a bridged trace from 40 years ago :D

Case, plate, PCB, and a bridged trace from 40 years ago :D


I like the shape of the case. After some cleaning it looks gorgeous.

Pic: Case (top)

Case (top)

Pic: Case (side)

Case (side)

But hey, is this really... wood?!

Some small dents and chipping around the wood screws give rise for suspicion. And the sound of the case is similar to that of some soft wood, like pine.

Pic: Is this made of wood?

Is this made of wood?

And most parts of the case are unusually thick – while remaining relatively light. Anyway, I didn't want to scrape off more paint to make sure of the material.

EDIT: jsheradin suggests this is a weird yellow plastic prevalent in that era.


Although doubleshot, the caps are thinner than other contemporaries from the early '80s.

Pic: Dark grey and orange keycaps

Dark grey and orange keycaps

And the doubleshot molding is quite unusual as well. Dark grey and bright orange caps with cream legends, but the outer colorful part is very thin.

You can see the cream plastic through the orange one (enlarge the photo and look for tiny light dots below the legend):

Pic: Thin or translucent top material?

Thin or translucent top material?

The stem has a strange shape too. (It was really hard to pull these off at first.) While the caps are uniform, the stems are slightly angled so there's only one way to put them back (arrows...).

Pic: Angled stem

Angled stem


Good old foam and foil switches. Legend: KEY TRONIC and SPOKANE. (Key Tronic Corporation is the manufacturer and they are based in Spokane, Washington, USA.)

Pic: Key Tronic foam and foil switch

Key Tronic foam and foil switch

Unfortunately, the foam is decayed/pulverulent, and the "foil", which looked like real aluminum foil on my Reuters, is a strange translucent one here. They fall off upon the lightest touch.

Btw, you don't need to solder foam and foil switches to the PCB, so some screws keep the PCB attached to the switch plate. The screws grab directly into the switch housing – and some switches were broken due to the tension.

Pic: Hole for the screw in the housing

Hole for the screw in the housing

I'm not really interested in converting this so I decided it will look awesome on a display without working switches.


No manufacturing date, handwritten messages, signatures, nor any stickers inside this time. :(

Except a tiny one: "ASCII V1.0"

The PCB says it's a Key Tronic one too.

Pic: PCB made by Key Tronic

PCB made by Key Tronic

I love these meandering traces and a quick fix probably from 40 years ago:

Pic: A quick fix from 40 years ago?

A quick fix from 40 years ago?

Pink springs

How cool is that? Pink springs under the hood.

Pic: Pink/purple springs

Pink/purple springs

Is that some kind of coating or oxidation? When I put them into water to clean them from dust and debris, the water turned pink too.

Polecat pointed me to the Deskthority wiki page of Key Tronics: and there are photos with both blue and pink springs. Does that suggest it may be a a coating, a color code to differentiate spring weights? Maybe.

Btw, they don't match the color of the accented keycaps, but after colorful caps, switches, and even hotswap sockets, colorful springs may be the next promising niche market. :D

Final words

Given how dirty the board was, I really like how this cleaning project turned out.

For reasons unknown to me, this was the second keyboard with a half conifer canopy in the housing. I'm not sure if it was the Orion or Videoton, but one of them was full of spruce leaves (and brick parts), while the remnants in this one were desiccated yew leaves I guess.

Anyway, after a thorough cleaning, the Kontron PSI 80 is a real beauty:

Pic: Kontron PSI 80 in all its glory

Kontron PSI 80 in all its glory
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Published on Sun 29th May 2022. Featured in KBD #80.


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