Rare IBM M15 split ergonomic keyboard hits eBay, bidding war

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Old 15-Jan-2011
Rare IBM M15 split ergonomic keyboard hits eBay, bidding war

If you follow the keyboard collectors market (yeah, didn’t think so…) then you’d certainly know that the IBM model M15 split ergonomic is pretty much the most desirable keyboard out there. A small number of them were made over a short span of time (1994-1995), and their clunky plastic knob and super-adjustable design meant that over years many of them broke. So when one lands on eBay, it’s a big deal.
The M15, whether of the “OPTIONS by IBM” or Lexmark variety, originally sold $179. It sold for $199 with the option number pad, which is an ever rarer find than the keyboard these days and will boost the value of a keyboard significantly. Having the original cardboard box is a big selling point as well.
An M15 is on eBay right now, and despite starting at just $29.99 the price has skyrocketed to over $1600. The item still has over 4 days to go so the price could go higher but it’s already through the roof.

Even considering the rarity of this keyboard the pricing is really surprising. Despite overall good condition the left side of the split spacebar is raised (see above), though the seller says the problem has been corrected. Also, this M15 doesn’t include the number pad, which makes it less of a prize to collectors than it otherwise would be.
Let’s look at pricing from the previous few M15 sales on eBay (USA). Back in September an M15 in good condition sold for $681. It had no number pad and was missing one of its rubber feet. In early August a Lexmark M15 sold for $622 with just two bids on it, and another Lexmark sold for $560 later in the month. In April a great condition Lexmark M15 with the number pad sold for $539. Prior to that they get hard to track, but pricing had been around the $400-600 range.
It’s not clear why the pricing has exploded this time, but we can be sure of one thing: as prices rise more of these keyboards will come out of the woodwork. And those will be snapped up by collectors, the only people who are paying $500+ for these keyboards. The fact that pretty much no split mechanical keyboards are made today is a factor in the pricing but we are entering an time when electronics from the 1990s and earlier are becoming collector’s items.
IBM M15, currently at $1625.

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