Mechanical keyboards have always been a favorite, but in recent years, they've experienced a bit of a craze. These keyboards are known for their tactile feedback, durability, and customizable key switches.
They offer a completely different typing experience than membrane keyboards, where the keycaps of mechanical keyboards have more key travel and tactile feedback. So, what is the origin of the mechanical keyboard? Within this context, we will trace the evolution of mechanical keyboards from their early origins all the way to the modern era.
The Origin of Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards date back to the 1970s. The earliest mechanical keyboards used key switches produced by companies such as Cherry and Alps Electric. These key switches are designed to have a long life, with some models lasting up to 100 million keystrokes. These switches are designed to provide tactile feedback so users can feel when a key is pressed. This feedback makes typing on a mechanical keyboard more enjoyable and satisfying.
The Lull in Mechanical Keyboards
Although mechanical keyboards were extremely popular among typists and computer enthusiasts, they experienced a decline in the 1990s. However, as computers became more affordable, membrane keyboards became more common. These keyboards feature lower-cost, less durable designs that lack the tactile feedback of mechanical keyboards. By the early 2000s, mechanical keyboards had gradually become a niche product, used mainly by gamers and enthusiasts. However, this changed in the mid-2000s, and mechanical keyboards returned in popularity.
The Resurgence of Mechanical Keyboards
In the early 2000s, a small group of computer enthusiasts began to rediscover the joys of mechanical keyboards. Appreciating the tactile feedback and durability of mechanical keyboards, these enthusiasts began seeking out vintage keyboards that were no longer in production.
Different Types of Mechanical Keys
One of the distinguishing features of mechanical keyboards is the variety of different types of key switches available. Each key switch type provides different tactile and audible feedback, which can significantly affect the typing experience.
Some common key switch types include:
Cherry MX Key Switches: Cherry MX key switches are one of the most popular key switch types, available in a variety of colors and providing different tactile feedback. For example, Cherry MX Blue switches provide loud tactile feedback, while Cherry MX Red switches provide a smoother and quieter typing experience.
Razer Key Switches: Razer key switches are designed specifically for gaming, providing a fast and responsive typing experience. Razer switches come in green, orange, and yellow, each offering varying degrees of tactile feedback.
Logitech switches: Designed to be fast and precise, Logitech switches are available in a variety of sizes and types. Logitech Romer-G switches provide a quiet and smooth typing experience, while Logitech GX Blue switches provide loud tactile feedback.
Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards offer several advantages over membrane keyboards. One of the main advantages is their durability. Mechanical keyboards remain intact after long periods of use.
Another advantage of mechanical keyboards is their tactile feedback. Individual switches beneath each key provide a satisfying "click" and tactile feedback when pressed. This makes typing more enjoyable and also helps reduce typing errors. Mechanical keyboards also offer a high degree of customization. Many mechanical keyboards allow users to replace keycaps, adjust backlighting, and even program custom macros. This level of customization is not possible with membrane keyboards.
Modern Mechanical Keyboards
Today, mechanical keyboards are more popular than ever. They are widely used in various fields such as gaming, programming, and writing. Modern mechanical keyboards offer a variety of different types of switches, layouts, and features.
One of the most popular types of mechanical switches is the Cherry MX series. These switches come in different colors, each providing a different level of tactile feedback and effectiveness. For example, Cherry MX Blue switches are known for their loud sound and tactile feedback, while Cherry MX Red switches are quieter and require less force to take effect.
Other popular switches include Kailh and Gateron switches, often used as cheaper alternatives to Cherry MX switches. Some keyboards even use custom-designed switches, such as Topre switches, which combine rubber domes and metal springs to provide a unique typing experience.
In addition to the switches, modern mechanical keyboards offer a variety of features and customizability. Many keyboards allow users to customize lighting, keycaps, and macros, while others offer a programmable layer that allows users to assign different functions to each key.
The evolution of mechanical keyboards has been a long and exciting journey. Mechanical keyboards have evolved from the early capacitive buckling spring key switches of the IBM Model F to the modern Cherry MX and custom-designed key switches. Although they were less popular for a while, they have come back into the spotlight in recent years thanks to their durability, tactile feedback, and customizable features.
Whether you're a gamer, programmer, or writer, a mechanical keyboard can provide you with a typing experience that's both enjoyable and efficient. With so many different types of switches, layouts, and features to choose from, there's sure to be a mechanical keyboard that's right for you. This kind of mechanical keyboard has become the mainstream in the keyboard circle, bringing users unprecedented typing pleasure.