The PC world is filled with upgrade addicts; people always looking for the newer, faster, better part. That's why the Omnikey is striking; it's a keyboard from the 80s that was so good, every keyboard since was compared to it. It even inspired its own fan club. Weighing in at 6 lbs. with a solid steel plate at the bottom, it was most known for the satisfying 'click' each key gave upon a press. Northgate went out of business; many people stockpiled the Omnikey for future use.

The Northgate Omnikey Ultra was (and is) fully programmable. You can remap any key to any other key, as well as creating macros. It is extremely durable. The keyboard even came with a key cap puller so you could move keys around when you reprogrammed it without breaking anything. The keys are fairly difficult to remove, and so do not tend to come off accidentally. The keyboard also has a six-pin mini-DIN connector and could be ordered with various cables for different systems. It could be used on PC/XTs, PC/ATs, Tandy, Amiga, and AT&T systems.

The keyboard could be programmed in software, but it also had a row of dip switches under a small door to the upper left of the keyboard. They are numbered from one to eight, and they are "on" when the switch is pushed away from you, or "up". Their functions are as follows:

  1. PC/XT or PC/AT select; Off for AT, on for XT.
  2. Another mode select switch. Switches 2 and three are used to set the mode to Tandy, AT&T, or Amiga. I do not know which does which.
  3. See 2.
  4. Up if your computer is a Novell ELS or non-dedicated server. Off otherwise.
  5. If this is off/down, caps lock is to the left of A, control is in the lower left, and alt is to the left of the space bar. If you switch it up, then Control is to the left of A, alt is in the lower left, and caps lock is to the left of the space bar. This is a common Unix workstation keyboard layout.
  6. This switch swaps the locations of the backslash (\) and splat (*) keys. Again, off for normal, on for switched. The backslash is normally below the large, L-shaped enter key, and to the right of a shortened shift key. The auxiliary splat key is between the right control and alt keys.
  7. This switch changes your keyboard to a dvorak layout; Off for qwerty, up for dvorak.
  8. "Sticky Keys": When switch 8 is on, shift, control, and alt become sticky, and will act as if they are being pressed until the next key is pressed and released, even if you let go of them.

Among its other numerous features, the keyboard has function keys both down the left (As on an XT) and across the top (AT-style), and a key with less than and greater than (greater than when shifted) between the caps lock and left alt keys. There is also an extra splat key between the right alt and control.

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