IBM 5150/5155/5160  -  Power On Self Test (POST)  -  Stuck Key

You are here because your IBM 5150/5155/5160 is displaying a 'xx 301' error on power up, where xx is a byte.

The presence of the byte before the 301 is the POST indicating that a key on the keyboard is stuck down (as reported by the keyboard). The byte is an indicator as to which key.

Note that more than one key could be stuck down, in which case, what is reported is the first stuck key.

Identifying the stuck key

STEP 1: Convert the byte located before the 301 from hexidecimal to decimal.

STEP 2: In the IBM Technical Reference for your computer, locate the keyboard layout diagram that matches your keyboard.  This diagram has numbers next to each key.

STEP 3: Looking at the diagram, match the decimal number from step 1 with a key.

Identification example

On my IBM 5160, I see "24 301".

I convert the 24 from hexidecimal to decimal, which results in 36.

I go to the IBM 5160 Technical Reference, and within that, I locate the keyboard layout diagram that matches my keyboard.  It is here.

Looking at the diagram, I match 36 with the  J  key.


Almost every time that I have fully dismanted an IBM 5150/5155/5160 keyboard, then put it back together, I have encountered stuck keys.
And the fix was simply to remove the offending key (using a screwdriver) then putting the key back.

Of course, that is not always the fix.