As a fledgeling in all things keyboards, I would like to consult your encyclopaedic knowledge and collective experience.
TL;DR: I would like to find a moderately quiet vintage tactile/clicky board (but not necessarily silent) for office use that is significantly less vexatious than IBM BS.
The long read: I bought my first mechanical keyboard back in 2013: a 52G blue-label Model M. I used it very happily until 2019-2020, when it stopped working. I then decided to buy another one and spiralled into a buying spree of IBM keyboards during lockdown, including 4 Ms, M122, F XT, and culminating in my endgame (floss-modded) F122, which I protect with dear life. I have little to no experience with other types of boards and switches beyond a couple of red and blue Outemu boards that I got for cheap at Amazon.
Back when I started at my current office, I was the only person occupying a desk for a couple of months, so my trusty M was part of the "status quo" when others arrived, and there it stayed without much debacle. However, our lab grew quickly in the last year, and our office will be repurposed from 5 sparsely distributed large desks to a grid of 10-12 narrow cubicles, with a whole new cohort of colleagues - whom I'm not acquainted enough yet to push the sound of capacitive buckling springs down their ears with a smile on my face.
Although my F122 is likely to get the torches and spikes out there, I believe my group of colleagues are more amenable to the concept of mechanical keyboards than the average office crowd (as computer science academics) and could tolerate some mild clickiness that stays at moderate, non-obscene levels. Therefore, I would like to find an alternative board to use at work, and I'd appreciate some suggestions that follow:
- The keyboard must be vintage and *not* blend in with what one would expect to see in a typical modern workspace. Bonus points if the keyboard has a strange/outdated design, quirky features (e.g. calculator), special colours (eg. industrial grey, SGI graphite, striking keycaps), or anything that makes its presence more ironic. Character and history are important, and this is why I got so drawn to IBM stuff early on. I have no interest in modern/minimalist keyboards, and I tend to keep mine cosmetically stock. Exceptions could be made for modern keyboards that are completely strange and out-of-place, like the Weytecs or Cherry 9009. My keyboards have always been great conversation starters, and I would like to continue having fun interactions because of them. Some curious folks even got converted after visiting my office
- I am a fast typist (120-140wpm peak), so I'd like it to preserve some level of tactility/clickiness. I could notice a significant speed improvement when going from my Model M to the F122. The midpoint between a silent rubber dome and the F122 should be my upper bound in terms of noise.
- I do not touch-type and cannot use anything ergonomic even if there is a gun pointed at my head.
- Although I love bizarre keyboards, I don't want to re-learn how to type every time I enter the office or return home, so it would need to be reasonably consistent in terms of the core layout, Ctrl, Alt keys, etc. Layouts: the fuller, the better.
- As I'm not a crafty handyman myself, I would like the keyboard to be somewhat durable and preserve some longevity without delicate and frequent maintenance.
- It should not cost more than my F122 did!
Thank you very much for reading this far!