Keyboard Builders' Digest / Keyboard Spotting
Orion ADP 2052
This is an Orion ADP 2052 terminal with a TKI keyboard from 1983. Rafi switches, physically locking Alfa Lock, some backlit keys and an intimidating cable and connector.
Published March 21, 2022
As I teased it on my Twitter channel, I bought some vintage keyboards along with an obscure terminal recently which turned out to be an Orion-KFKI ADP-2052. It must be quite rare because there was only a single photo on the net I could find: this one.
And here is mine:
Orion & KFKI
Back to the basics: founded in 1913 and based in Budapest, Orion was a well-known brand of electronic consumer goods in Hungary. (They still exist, today they are part of the Singaporean Thakral Group.)
Back in the 20th century they produced TVs, radios, and various other electronic devices. If we can believe this source, there was a time when Orion was responsible for 25-30% of the radio export of the whole world.
Anyways, it seems they made terminals too. Teamed up with KFKI (Central Physics Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, est. 1950), this Orion ADP-2052 terminal was designed to access a TPA (stored program analyzer) of KFKI – which started out as a DEC PDP-8 clone and was a computer which couldn't be called a computer. But this is another story...
Here is an archive photo from the '80s with the TPA (light brown box in the middle), an ADP-2000 (an earlier model in front of the guy) and the exact same keyboard I seized (between the two).
Both the keyboard and video terminal contain PCBs but also remnants of older techniques like point to point or wire wrap construction.
Usually, I start with looking for stickers in the housing or on PCBs. I like to stumble upon handwritten notes, signatures of people who built and/or tested these devices, or any other indication of when the particular item was made.
While there wasn't really any usable sticker this time, I found something even better: a yellowed label hanging from the metal frame inside of the video terminal – attached with a string.
The label reads: "ADP 2052 Simonné(?)" on one side and "csengetve, 83.03.21. Nagy" on the other.
Yey! As a total coincidence, it seems this thing has its birthday today. The 39th one.
"Simonné" is apparently the family name of a lady (literally Mrs. Simon) and "csengetve" means "belled" in Hungarian. Probably the contemporary name for the continuity and quality check? Maybe. And "Nagy" is one of the most common family names in Hungary.
But you are more interested in the keyboard I guess.
The keyboard case is quite big, and it's made of a thick but lightweight plastic material which gives the keyboard the characteristic sound profile of a giant lunch box.
No usable sticker or label on or inside of the keyboard except this one:
TKI stands for Telecommunication Research Institute (est. 1950) and if the hard-to-read part is "Unitaszt" – which would make sense – than this is another sign of the rarity of this artifact – because I can't find anything with that search phrase.
The vivid color scheme is just like Lego bricks of the 80s. Double-shot uniform caps in yellow, red, blue, and two shades of grey. Plus some blank green ones.
The profile is like a tall and edgy XDA or uniform SA R3 with harsh edges.
Relatively thin, not nearly as nice as the caps on my Reuters trading keyboard from about the same era.
According to the nameplate, the switch was manufactured by Rafi (German brand) but not even similar to any of the Rafi variants listed on Deskthority. Not even close.
Very tall switches with black cylindrical housing (below the plate) and long white stems. Further disassembly wasn't possible without desoldering – maybe later. As you can see in the picture above, there's a dummy stem below the 2u "0" key.
As jsheradin points out in his reply, these are probably Rafi RC 72 Hall effect switches. There are many close-ups posted by Jacob Alexander with regards of a similar Express 2, also using parts made by TKI.
Most of the switches are quite scratchy linears except the "Alfa Lock" key which is a nice locking one with a satisfying click both on lock and unlock.
... this one, just like other keys with transparent top are backlit – with tiny light-bulbs. (The Reuters from 1985 had LEDs already.)
Cable and connector
As already told, I had no idea what I was buying but fell in love with the connector barely visible in a photo of the original listing. Here it is:
According to the labels it's a Kontakta / Socapex (Captions on the connector itself: "Kontakta Budapest" and "Licence Socapex").
Kontakta was a factory based in Budapest and Szentes, today (as Kontavill) it's part of Legrand (source).
And Socapex seems to be a big name in the entertainment industry, particularly in film, television and stage lighting.
The connector is HUGE and it also sports a large fixing screw.
And the cable is very THICK, see the comparison below. That said, I don't really get what's going on here:
The connector has 36 pins from which "only" 24 are used. Most of the wires go to the main PCB and some to a smaller panel with a fuse and a transistor(?) covered by a makeshift heat sink.
The cable is STIFF. I mean, almost like a broom handle – and that's only a slight exaggeration.
It's 15.5mm thick and, honestly, on adjusting the cable the whole keyboard moves.
Due to the stiffness of the cable it's impossible to use the keyboard in front of the video terminal, at least on the same level. I have no idea how this photo was shot. Maybe that one in the picture doesn't have the cable.
Finally, here is a comparison of this Kontakta / Socapex with some more common vintage connectors like DIN, PS/2, and also an USB-A and micro for reference.
As you can see, the cable is as thick as the whole coil of another terminal (Tatung).
That's it for now. Thanks for reading.
Published on Mon 21st Mar 2022. Featured in KBD #70.
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