When did you first start appreciating keyboards?

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01 May 2020, 19:17

It seems like we're in a bit of a golden era of keyboard appreciation right now. There are several active sites like DT focused on keyboards, a plethora of mechanical switch types are available and being developed, and projects like Ellipse's amazing Model F recreation are even bringing back classics from the past, something I would never have believed possible a few years ago.

Clearly there were people who appreciated keyboards in bygone eras - evinced by the effort IBM and some other makers put into keyboard and keyswitch feel and sound in the 70s and early 80s. Was this a holdover from an era where people who typed were literally "professional typists"? I'm talking about workers in typing pool and secretarial jobs in the 60 and 70s, who would be the ones operating the keyboards... It seems like by the late 80s and through the 90s, keyboard quality hit a low ebb. People were so much more focused on the computer itself, and the keyboard was seen as a completely boring if necessary peripheral - if it worked and looked OK, that was all you could ask of it. I feel like the good keyboards from the late 80's, like many with Alps switches, were almost good by accident - Alps had designed good switches a few years earlier, and since they were available and Japanese stuff was cheap, that's what got used. As soon as something even cheaper came along (rubber domes), they were dropped unceremoniously.

Were there people during this time collecting the good keyboards? I remember as a teenager in the late 90's picking up a 10 year old Apple ADB keyboard at a junk sale, and marveling at how much better the keys felt than on my contemporary AppleDesign keyboard. I didn't know why that was, but I nevertheless used it for a few years because it felt good.

I'm pretty sure that if there were people coveting good keyboards at this time, they were few and far between. Nowadays, at my work at a software company, probably one in 4 developers has a mechanical keyboard at their desk. But just 5 years ago, I was considered a bit eccentric for bringing my own keyboard to work.

What changed? or did it really change?
What's your keyboard appreciation history?


01 May 2020, 19:55

I am probably one of the youngest people on DT so my experience with keyboards and computers is a bit skewed, but I started appreciating mechs a few years ago when I got my first real keyboard, a Cooler Master Masterkeys Pro S with MX Browns. It was quite the upgrade from my Dell L100 piece of shit, which was nice.

I actually really fucking loved that board (honestly, MX Browns aren't that bad...I just wish they were less scratchy, but all Cherries are. I also am a fan of lightly tactile switches in general), but eventually transitioned to vint mechs after finding an AT101 at a thrift store, finding Chyros's linearizing guide, and then just getting addicted from there xD Really loved the AT101 and my next board was a Terminal Model M which I cleaned, converted, used for a bit and eventually sold it. Then I bought a Z150, traded that for an Omnikey Ultra, and somewhere during all of this I got my Focus 9000 for Christmas, found a pair of NOS Peerless in ewaste, bought an FLS board (man, FLS is disappointing...feels even more dirt sensitive than Alps and even after SUPER thorough cleaning and some Tribosys it felt pretty bad), and so on and so forth.

Not sure if this is exactly the answer you were looking for, but oh well lmao

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01 May 2020, 20:40

Relatively speaking, I'm quite an infant in this hobby so I can't comment historically speaking. I only really dived into 'proper' keyboarding and appreciation last August when I got my first Model M (an '87 battleship), and I was born in 1997 so I missed out experiencing the golden river of vintage IBM and Alps.

Prior to last August, my keyboard choices were either ThinkPads (since I primarily used/use laptops more than anything) or a few Logitech G-series LCD rubberdomes for macros. In the distance past, I mainly used Microsoft ergonomic keyboards. The latter two were just choices informed by utility rather than a fondness for them, although I still admittedly break out my Logitech G15 V2 from time to time. Anyway, after I tasted the M, everything changed. Now I'm swimming with three Model Fs, 13 Model Ms, and a bunch of misc IBM/Lenovo keyboards (mostly discrete ThinkPad keyboards), and I don't plan to end my frenzy at that and I'm even in deep enough to be working on a website to host my personal database, experiences, blog, and other information about IBM keyboards on. The attractions/my most appreciated aspects with their keyboards are the switches (of course), the build quality and the utilitarian-esque looks, and I like to believe that being happy with what I'm typing on has boosted my productivity too. From hereon, I expect my appreciation to only increase further as I expand into Beamsprings and Alps SKCL/SKCM in the coming months and years.


01 May 2020, 21:44

I bought my first stand-alone keyboard in 1997 with my first PC, and it was a given that it was going to be a Key Tronic. A friend had got an ErgoForce and besides the variable weighting they were just noticeably better than other rubber domes: snappier action and not mushy. I once got a Microsoft keyboard* as a gift, but it was just so horrible that I had to get rid of it. I used Key Tronic keyboards until 2010 when I discovered mechanical keyboards.

Before '97, I had been using "home computers" with built-in keyboards — where the keyboard hadn't been a choice.
robo wrote:
01 May 2020, 19:17
It seems like by the late 80s and through the 90s, keyboard quality hit a low ebb. People were so much more focused on the computer itself, and the keyboard was seen as a completely boring if necessary peripheral - if it worked and looked OK, that was all you could ask of it.
I think it was about cost. Before the mid '90s not everyone owned a PC. When the "home PC" and later Internet-booms happened, PC manufacturers competed more on sales price — not on total cost of ownership.
Before this, PCs were significantly more costly and for businesses only: big corporations got service contracts — so the ability to repair a keyboard was a thing.

Before the booms, people at home or in small businesses used typewriters — which by then had become electronic, or inexpensive "home computers", and both tended to have quite cheap keyboards overall.

Edit: *It was a white Microsoft Internet Keyboard
Last edited by Findecanor on 02 May 2020, 17:32, edited 1 time in total.

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01 May 2020, 22:17

Findecanor wrote:
01 May 2020, 21:44
robo wrote:
01 May 2020, 19:17
It seems like by the late 80s and through the 90s, keyboard quality hit a low ebb. People were so much more focused on the computer itself, and the keyboard was seen as a completely boring if necessary peripheral - if it worked and looked OK, that was all you could ask of it.
I think it was about cost. Before the mid '90s not everyone owned a PC. When the "home PC" and later Internet-booms happened, PC manufacturers competed more on sales price — not on total cost of ownership.
Before this, PCs were significantly more costly and for businesses only: big corporations got service contracts — so the ability to repair a keyboard was a thing.
I'm sure cost was a factor (and there was severe price competition in the PC market in the 90's - things that couldn't be represented as a number on a spec sheet tended to go by the wayside), but even keyboards for things like Sun/SGI/NeXT workstations got sharp downgrades in this era, and buyers of those machines definitely weren't that price sensitive.

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01 May 2020, 22:48

My first non-commodity keyboard was a DAS, maybe 10-12 years ago. I got it because it was billed as the ultimate typing machine and something about having a premium input device appealed to me. I used it for several years but wasn't into keyboards really to any further extent.

Fast forward to a few years back. My friends from highschool and I get together every Christmas break to go to the local LAN center in my area and do other fun stuff. I always just use the LAN center's gear (they actually keep stuff very clean) but at one point, my good friend started bringing his own "fancy" keyboard. I remember this "fancy" keyboard was a Magicforce 68. I was totally captivated by it! I didn't know that they made keyboards in different layouts / form factors.

So I got to talking with him a bit.

Me: "I gotta buy one of these things" etc. etc.
Him: "Yeah this one's cool but I want one with Zealios. They're designed by a community member and manufactured by Gateron".

(A) I didn't know there was a keyboard community and (b) I didn't know anyone other than Cherry made switches.

Him: "Oh and you'll want some nice keycaps blah blah blah..."

So this idea to buy a Magicforce 68 kind of snowballed in my head and turned into "You can, should, and will build your own custom keyboard."

So that was kind of the start of it. I become obsessed with things really easily and I was quite obsessed with this hobby for quite some time. These days I'm drawn to other stuff a little bit more, but keyboards still have a place in my heart.

*wipes tear*

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[ XMIT ]

01 May 2020, 22:57

I have a long answer to this that I wrote a while ago. Check out:



01 May 2020, 23:08

XMIT wrote:
01 May 2020, 22:57
I have a long answer to this that I wrote a while ago. Check out:

Heh, very interesting :D

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02 May 2020, 00:51

I agree this is a golden age of appreciation, even if prices are a lot higher than they once were for vintage items. We've never had so many options to try for both original and re-creation switches, not to mention ways to trade and share our experiences. It seems most things considered 'eccentric' these days are met with more curiosity than aversion, something that didn't really happen until recent in my experience.

I started using Commodore/Amiga keyboards with mechanical switches on family machines in the late '80s, with lots of Apple II gs/e machines in school. To be honest, I took most of these for granted at the time since it was the standard. Some of the public libraries had IBM terminals with Model-M keyboards, and I think that was the first time I started to appreciate that keyboards could be unique.

My family bought a Packard Bell system with a green ALPS keyboard in the early '90s (something I didn't even know until much later), and as the school computers started their shift towards rubber domes in the mid '90s, I grew to appreciate how nice it was to type on. In '99 or so, I had a middle school robotics teacher that had worked for IBM during her earlier days. She had 10+ older PCs in her class with model Ms, and a couple F ATs. This was when it really clicked :roll: for me after using crappy domes in school almost exclusively for the last 5 years. She had a 3279 beamspring keyboard on her own PC (looking back, impressive that she was able to convert it for a win98 machine), so needless to say my appreciation for clicky stuff was in full swing.

After that, the family moved onto a Sony VAIO, and disappointingly, I got stuck with mostly domes for almost a decade until graduating uni. The Packard Bell was stuck buried in some storage unit until around 2010, when I dug through and grabbed it for my newly built PC. I used this for a few years after, and had a couple friends that were into Cherry keyboards in IRC communities. Didn't really get to reconnect with my love for vintage stuff until finding Geekhack and DT a few years later. I can say without a doubt that it's only grown ever since :D
Last edited by Invisius on 02 May 2020, 03:35, edited 1 time in total.

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02 May 2020, 00:56

I had mechanical boards back in the late 90s to early 2000s when My family finally could afford to get me a computer. It was a windows 95 machine that my dad's work was getting rid of in an upgrade. They had a ploicy at the time to auction off their used stuff to employees before recycling so we were able to get some breadboxes and some old monitors and set them up in the basement. I don't remember what keyboards we were using but I am pretty sure they were mechanical. After that I had a dell Quietkey for the longest time until I found a basically new Podworld at goodwill a few years ago. From there I just sorta started accumulating additional boards and typewriters.

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02 May 2020, 02:37

I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until recently…I’d say around 2015, when I was introduced to “mechanical keyboards”. Up to that point, I was using a crappy dell rubber dome keyboard with some the legends starting to fade.

It took some hard self-convincing, but I saved up to purchase my first mech board in 2016 on eBay (CM QuickFire TK with Cherry MX Browns), thought I snagged a good deal since I remember getting it for only £30 or so…but when I got it, I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t really as “tactile” as I was promised from all the reviews (this was a year before I realized that this was a main characteristic of the Cherry MX Brown switch) because my stupid ass proceeded to buy 3 other keyboards with the same switch (CM Pro L, Corsair K95 and Corsair K70). The latter of the three I used for as my main as I thought ‘it was the best money can buy’ (I even managed to find custom keycaps that fit for it, despite its non-standard bottom row, which I eventually learnt to dislike over time).

It wasn’t until late 2019 when I finally explored outside the Cherry’s lineup. I bought a GMMK, installed BOX Pinks on it and INSTANTLY fell in love with them. 7 months later to this present day, I now own 15 different keyboards (including a typewriter) and god knows how many switches now, I can probably deck out 5 full size GMMKs with them all. I also decided to make a website and a YouTube channel to share my experiences with them. Overall, I’m enjoying the experience, but wallet isn’t haha.

I do also fully agree with you that we are in the golden age keyboard appreciation, especially with the recreations you’ve mentioned. As much as I am not a fan of the layout, I really like the modern recreations of the Apple M0110 and I hope we get to see more modern recreations like these.

With mechanicals gaining more and more popularity each year, do you think there is a chance that they will become the norm in homes and offices again?

TD;DR: I recently just got into it, but I used a keyboard with Cherry MX Browns for a while. Now, I play around with several keyboards and switches. This hobby is awesome!

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02 May 2020, 05:46

I'm one of those old timers who started playing with computers in the late '80s. My first one was a CP/M that I/O'd through a terminal, so I got to (indirectly) choose my keyboard. My first terminal was a Televideo 950 (Futaba MD switches) but I switched to a Zenith using Alps (SKCC?) switches because I had used those on a Morrow MDT60 and much preferred them over the Futabas. I eventually threw together an XT clone from junk parts. I was working at a surplus/recycling place so I got everything at cost, which was usually nothing. At first I had a real IBM Model F PC/XT keyboard, but the magazine ads for the Northgates were so tempting that I decided I had to have one. I was bummed when the local computer store couldn't sell me one. But a customer told me the Leading Edge keyboards used the same Alps switches, and he came back the next day and handed me one (DC-2014). It was everything I had hoped for, and for the most part I've been using Alps switches ever since. Later on we started seeing Northgates and I collected a few, along with a bunch of other keyboards that struck my fancy. I've still got most of them, so I guess that makes me one of those early collectors.

Honestly there weren't a lot of us to begin with, and I can say that with some authority having worked at a surplus place for so many years. You also have to keep in mind that very few people had a computer back then, and only a small percentage of those who did really cared about which keyboard was connected to it. No cell phones, no internet, I'm not sure TV had even been invented yet.

Just by the numbers most of us have died off by now, so statistically I'm not sure I even still exist myself.


02 May 2020, 16:15

Interesting question!

For years, I typed on a Microsoft Internet Keyboard - until I spilled a large mug of coffee over it, and its spirit ascended to keyboard heaven.

The Microsoft Internet Keyboard, although a rubberdome, is really quite comfortable to type on, so I thought I'd be OK with a cheap new keyboard from our local MediaMarkt branch. Well, I was wrong - the keyfeel was awful.

I then started looking into other options, and came across an old IBM SK-8806. I still have that board, partly because it looks great and has a UK layout, but the rubberdomes it uses feel mushy, and unlike peas they're not edible.

As I read more, I became aware of the IBM model M. I bought one from a UK seller and, since then, have done most of my typing on it (well, the typing I do at home, at least - at work we have cheap-and-not-so-cheerful HP keyboards).

I also have a few Alps boards, a Matias and two Model Fs but the Model M is very much my favourite.

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02 May 2020, 16:23

My first computer was an Atari 800XL. In 1989-1990 I moved on to a Macintosh... and after little time, I moved to PCs, as Macintoshes at the time made rather difficult to make the leap from a simple user to a power user (much less anything more).

On PCs at the time, keyboards were just "keyboards" and not much thought was put into it. I was mildly aware that some models were better than others (the general access computer room had old Olivetti RD keyboards that had been used way beyond their expected lifetime; the specialized computer lab at the university mostly had PS/2 computers with Model M keyboards; my PC at home was a MITAC 286, with what I'm now fairly sure was cheap Alps-clones, and with an absurdly cheap pad print), but I didn't realize until I was at my first job at a bank (1998) that the Model M keyboard I had been handed was, indeed, WAY better than all the keyboards everyone else was using. In March 2000, the bank made an extremely ill-advised decision of firing half of the IT staff, including me, and one of the things I lamented was losing access to that particular keyboard — you could say that by this time, I had learned to appreciate mechanical keyboards, even if we didn't yet call it like that.

A few months went by, and I took advantage of a quick trip to USA to buy an IBM Model M keyboard on eBay, and plunged what then seemed to be a lot (95 bucks!) into a Unicomp keyboard as well (because they had models with the "vertical" instead of the "horizontal" Enter key, mind you).

I kept going on using Model M keyboards in the period afterwards, when the RD flood happened. In my next job (at the Green Mud Bank, which I have trashtalked here more than once), I actually salvaged four Model M keyboards (three were abandoned and would have been dumped; one I actually traded for a new keyboard (an RD bought at a store for eight bucks; both me and him in the trade walked away with the feeling of having taken the other guy for a ride!); used one and kept the others in my "stash". When I left that job (2011), I took the keyboards with me and no one batted an eye.

As years passed, "mechanical keyboards" became a thing, with people rediscovering the "goodness" of the "clicky keyboards" and whatnot... something that I had been using continuously for long years (adding a couple SSKs and a few other Model M units along the way). In 2017, I joined DT... and discovered during that all this time, I had been alone in my quiet appreciation of mechanical keyboards for no good reason.

And now? A large collection of Model M keyboards, both full-size and SSKs, an F122 (plus another one I don't let anyone know about), a few F XT keyboards for shirts and gingers, a couple Pingmasters, a couple M0110/M0110A keyboards for nostalgia, a couple M0120 and one Atari CX85 numpads for lustalgia, and a few other random items in my ever growing keyboard collection.

But what do I always come down to? The F122 and an XXK. Now, where do I get an Unsaver?

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02 May 2020, 16:28


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02 May 2020, 20:09

Two years ago, my friend show me old keyboards, because i couldn't afford the newdays mechanical keyboards.
So i browsed auctions everyday in my country over half year and i finnaly found cheap chicony 5161a
I don't regret the choice

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03 May 2020, 22:01

I came to mechanical boards by way of ergonomic concerns five years ago: I found myself using full-size keyboards regularly for the first time after years on laptops and my right shoulder began acting up from constantly reaching for my mouse all the way to the right.

Figured I needed something narrower than full size, at first I tried a Thinkpad Compact USB, then a MS Sculpt Ergo. They were an improvement and my shoulder got better but both weren't great boards for different reasons. (Wacky nav key layout on the Lenovo and awful function keys on the Sculpt.)

Around the same time a work colleague mentioned WASD Keyboards and their custom printed option, tried a few classmates' boards (iirc: MX Red, MX Brown, and Razer click) and eventually ordered a TKL with MX Clears as my first mechanical board. I fell down the rabbit hole and now have all manner of clicky, tactile, and linear boards to choose from...

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04 May 2020, 16:40

Worked at Geek Squad retail about 10-12 years ago. I had heard about mechanical boards, but had never tried one. Lady came in to recycle some stuff including a IBM Terminal M and a Chicony KB-5181 w/Monteray blues. Never got the M converted, but I used the Chicony for a long time, and I was hooked. With 2 kids I've pretty much given up my hobby of collecting and restoring, but my love persists.

I'm working from home now and it has allowed me to bust out my Unicomp M, and I'm falling in love with it again.


04 May 2020, 18:22

For me it started way back in 1996 when my dad had an Acer clicky keyboard at work. We bought out first computer for home the same year, being price conscious we bought a rubber dome for how quiet it was (we called them Membrane back then without even knowing what they were) . Despite having a super quiet rubber dome, my brother and I still used to rave about our dad's click keyboard at work. 2 years later, my uncle gifted me a Microsoft Natural Keyboard. I was soon the kid with the coolest keyboard around, and it wasn't even a mechanical keyboard. That stayed with me for a few years until I went to college. From then it was just rubber domes all along. It was only a few years ago I started toying with the idea of getting back into mechanical keyboards, but my work colleagues wouldn't let me. It was only early last year (2019) that I started looking up on mechanical keyboards with more seriousness. I bought a cherry mx blue ( a good part of school year was with Cherry MX blue and Model Ms), but was not pleased with it and it went back. Thats when I stumbled upon DT! And boy its been a roller coaster. I bought several Model Ms (13 to be precise) with different production dates, several alps, several model Fs, vintage blacks and a Beamspring - all of this was in 2019. Thankfully, over the past months, I've thinned my collection considerably and traded away a lot of my boards.

Going into the collection hobby, I had already drawn up my end game list and earlier this year I reached the goal
1. Beamspring
2. F122, AT
4. ALPS Blue

So which do I like the most -

1. For office work - Cherry vintage blacks - they are a bit heavy but nothing that I can't get used to
2. For work with no colleagues around - IBM SSK - The best keyboard out there!
All model Fs - my favorite is the F122
3. Alps SKCM blue
4. Beamspring - this one I rarely use - I am just keeping it for posterity's sake

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04 May 2020, 22:40

But what do I always come down to? The F122 and an XXK. Now, where do I get an Unsaver?
here , but you'll get only the body. Under the hood you'll need to cut a pingmaster of yours off. :mrgreen:

@depletedvespene. If I were you with all these pingmasters or a spare F122 (notoriously cheap), I would do a thought!


04 May 2020, 23:05

dcopellino wrote:
04 May 2020, 22:40
But what do I always come down to? The F122 and an XXK. Now, where do I get an Unsaver?
here , but you'll get only the body. Under the hood you'll need to cut a pingmaster of yours off. :mrgreen:

@depletedvespene. If I were you with all these pingmasters or a spare F122 (notoriously cheap), I would do a thought!
Yeah, that unsaver is domes (sadly). Elecshopper has NOS ones for $175 iirc

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05 May 2020, 01:08

Findecanor wrote:
01 May 2020, 21:44

I think it was about cost. Before the mid '90s not everyone owned a PC.
When I got my first computer in 1986 I got an XT keyboard, which I paid for as a separate line item - for $100-$200 as I remember.

I used that well into the 1990s when I got a Gateway system from my brother-in-law (including keyboard) and sold my old system. I think that I was mostly indifferent to the keyboard, happy to have a conventional modern layout. After just a couple of years (about 1997) I got a Dell system through work with an AT101W which I used for about 5 years and really liked.

Then I left that job and gave the system back. I bought a Compaq system which came with an SK-2800 (I think I remember that right) which is a really nice rubber dome with a nice set of media keys. I got used to it and really liked it, so I kept an eye out for backups and eventually had about 3-4 of them which I used until late 2010.

At that time I took a 4-month job away from my family and had a lot of time in the evenings for internet surfing (and also only a lousy laptop keyboard). I stumbled on to the keyboard community and got interested. When I got home I almost immediately found a Northgate Ultra in a salvage shop with a couple of minor problems. After not very long I sold it to Northgate Bob and bought a Model M and an F XT. I even went to the expense of getting a Hagstrom but the F XT layout was just too weird for my muscle memory to accept.

That was about the time that Soarer released his firmware, and I soon found a couple of junk F 122-key terminals from which I was able to assemble a working unit. At that point I was hooked, and I realized that a near-ANSI conversion was quite possible.

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05 May 2020, 05:12

dcopellino wrote:
04 May 2020, 22:40
But what do I always come down to? The F122 and an XXK. Now, where do I get an Unsaver?
here , but you'll get only the body. Under the hood you'll need to cut a pingmaster of yours off. :mrgreen:
That ain't happening. Also, what makes you think I don't actually have an RD Unsaver? ("Ardunsaver"?) :mrgreen:

dcopellino wrote:
04 May 2020, 22:40
@depletedvespene. If I were you with all these pingmasters or a spare F122 (notoriously cheap), I would do a thought!
All jokes aside... if I had the hand skills to do this kind of craft, there IS one nutty project I'd like to do — procure a lot of Alps SKCC creams (SKCC greens are too light for me), the keycaps from TWO pingmasters, and build TWO custom keyboards (a TKL and a 75%) with them, plus a powernumpad to attach to one of those. That would be unique, that's for sure.

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05 May 2020, 08:42

I really started caring about mechanical keyboards at around early 2012 when I was staying at my my brother's friend's house. The friend's brother had a Razer Blackwidow (Yes, the 2012 one), and it was nothing like I've ever tried before. It was a novelty thing, and very expensive for me at the time (considering that I don't even have a computer back then -- I frequent internet cafes), but it was cool, so I kept that in the back of my head.

Fast forward to 2014, and I went to Thailand once again to visit my relatives. I had needed a keyboard with Thai legends on it, so while I'm at it, I might as well get one here. On the day before my flight back, I went to a store and bought myself a Ttesports Poseidon Z by literally asking the clerk "What's the cheapest mechanical keyboard you have that has backlighting?" and I got one. My mom didn't want me to get one, but, after some crying and thinking, I bought it anyway. :)

I still have the whole entire board, the box and the documentation, along with the brush the clerk gave to me for dusting my keyboard ever so often. I've definitely abused that brush in ways unimaginable to that clerk, to say the least. :lol:

Fast forward again to 2018, when I really started to care about the condition of the Poseidon Z. I never knew at the time, but the keycaps really didn't like alcohol, and one time I cleaned the caps of the board by soaking the keycaps in alcohol for about a half hour. Needless to say, it didn't go well -- it looked like I stripped a coating off of the keycaps or something, as there were black residue in the alcohol. It looked like it really weakened the caps too -- and it did. Stems kept breaking, and I kept gluing it back. At around this time, I had to plan for this board's retirement. (Oh, just a note -- the legends were totally fine even after 4.5 years of use. The caps were a bit shiny, sure, but the legends were all still there.)

During my Sophomore year of high school in 2017-2018, I've saved up a majority of my lunch money to get a PC. I had maybe about $700 saved up, and I was going to save just a bit more to buy parts for a new computer. I had plans to already get a keyboard by then -- I believe it was the B-face custom that I was eyeing onto. I never got a keyboard during that year, but plans were in fruition, and I had made tons of research into mechanical keyboards.

Somewhere along the line, I had discovered Chyros' "gaming keyboard on a budget" video with his AT101Ws. That gave me an alternative of getting a vintage keyboard instead of a custom -- but by that time, the prices of AT101Ws were absurd (because of the video) so I looked for alternatives. Eventually, I found a Focus FK-2001 with Windows keys on auction, in which I won. It had Alps clones in them, but after spending 8 hours modding my ivory alps that I got for cheap, and swapping it in, it became my daily driver.

And what about the Thai legends? Well, I still needed them, so I found a Facebook group of Thai Vintage keyboard people (there's a few over there) and I asked around for some Thai Alps caps, and I was hooked up with one :) That was also my first international shipment purchase I ever did, and that's just the start....

And oh, what happened to the PC? Well... I ended up using all of that money that I saved up and spent it on this hobby instead :? But at least I didn't spend it on something useless -- I've hunted and expanded my collection of vintage stuff over the past year or so and I'm definitely in the profit margin still, so I don't feel too bad. I'm glad to say, however, that something is finally in the works! I'm just waiting for my last PC part to ship to my house and then I can finally build myself a PC, after 2 years... :D

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07 May 2020, 00:58

I had a few mechanical keyboards in my time. I actually had an AT101W before it was cool; that is, I got it with a computer from Dell when I was a kid.

I also have a Model M from 93 that I like to call myself the original owner of, but of course, I wasn't, since I actually got it from my friend who had upgraded his keyboard to something quieter with Windows keys. The damn thing was only about a year old and it barely ever got used. Loved it.

Now, I used both of these variously on and off for years, but my family didn't like them since they were loud. Hence, I moved on to a Dell Quietkey keyboard from 1997. Fairly good rubber dome. Highly tactile. I used that until I started getting laptops for school and college and shit.

When I moved on to building a new desktop, I whipped out my old mechanicals, but found I could barely use the Model M since it didn't have a windows key, something to which I had become accustomed over the years, and my AT101W had started to become scratchy.

At that point, I apprehended a Monoprice keyboard with Cherry MX Blues, which I actually have right next to me. That was one of the best buys I had ever done. I used the monoprice for a few years, but became increasingly dissatisfied with the Cherry keys and the aesthetics. I much preferred the beige of the old days. I registered here about 5 years ago to see what people were doing with vintage keyboards, but it seemed to very much be a kind of electronic repair hobbyist thing, which I'm not.

Anyway, a few months ago, I finally bit the bullet and picked up a new Unicomp Model M. Now I'm obsessed, because in researching and researching to make sure I was getting a solid keyboard, I discovered Matias still makes ALPS, Unicomp repairs old boards, are making a new heavier Model M, terminals can be converted, and Kailh has made highly tactile MX compatible switches. It's like, holy shit.

I can type on my vintage keyboards I've always wanted to type on, without typing on them! Or get them refurbished from Unicomp to good as new! WAT


15 May 2020, 15:40

When I was very young, I experienced the tail end of good keyboards in elementary school.

We had what I remember as IBM Model Ms in a computer lab, that school was an IBM shop. They were running 8086s and 286s. The keyboards were real battleships and were memorable.

At the same time, my home received an old 286 with what was probably a rubber-dome keyboard. Nobody commented on the rubber dome, it was just the way of things.

A later classroom used an Apple computer, which we all hated. One of those black+white 'education' models. But the keyboard was notable. It felt surprisingly good, better than any keyboard me or my friends had. Must have been my first experience with probably Salmon or Orange ALPS.

Fast forward a few years, and we are all using rubber-domes. Laptops were sleek, and bringing in more rubber dome and scissor-switch keyboards. So people around me, including myself, just forgot about those big old keyboards.

One day ~2015, I went to replace a rubber dome I had spilled coffee all over. I picked up a Logitech K120 and it was ... horrible. I googled "good office keyboard" and picked up some more rubber domes, but most of them were horrible.

The websites kept recommending 'mechanical keyboards' like Das Keyboard or Filco, so I picked one up, a MJ2 in MX Brown. It was also pretty horrible at first, but I had spent what seemed at the time like a lot of money, so I kept typing until I got used to it. I discovered that you don't have to bottom-out, and can type very quickly. It was also good for gaming. The switches eventually broke-in. But I wanted more, since MX Browns leave a lot to be desired. So after learning about keycap swapping, I started looking at custom switches.

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15 May 2020, 15:57

I would've experienced good keyboards for the first time in the early 1990s, I'd guess. The first computer I used was in 1991, and was an Apple //c, but it was the launch version with the Apple Hairpin Spring switches, the kind of switch that makes you run screaming for rubber domes.

The first actually good keyboard I would've used would've been an IBM Model M2 in 1993 or 1994, probably. (Say what you will about its durability over time, it was one hell of an exercise in cost engineering, to make 90% of the Model M feel in like 1/3 of the price.)

I think I started actively caring about keyboards circa 2003-2004, with people talking about Model Ms on Slashdot. That's when they were still cheap at Goodwill - like you could go into a random Goodwill and have a decent chance of walking out with one for $5. And, there was very little community, and a lot of misinformation - there were occasional fansites, people writing blog posts about keyboards, but nothing centralized, and it was common to conflate things like Cherry MX and the various Alps switches, even. Really, it wasn't until 2008 when iMav started Geekhack, and then posted on basically every blog post about keyboards' comments mentioning its existence, that an English language keyboard community even existed.

And, the early days consisted of a lot of figuring out the Japanese and Korean information sources to sort out a lot of the misinformation, and importing Filco (and later, Topre) keyboards from Japan - new stuff came later, as all these old suppliers that basically just served point of sale and markets like that, started to be discovered.


18 May 2020, 00:10

I bought an Apple Extended II after learning you could convert them to USB. I used a cherry MX brown filco before that but I can't say I gave a damn about it, it was just a keyboard. I mostly did it as I wanted a board with UK mac layout, which is a weird blend of ISO and ANSI, but I fell in love with the switches.

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24 May 2020, 23:30

Some of you might be surprised by this but I actually started liking keyboards a lot when I was just like 8-9 years old if I'm not wrong (I'm 18 now), I can't remember the brand but it was a black keyboard and most probably used rubber domes, but from that pretty young age, I loved typing on it all day because of the sound it made, yeah, pretty crazy to think how this industry has revived not too long ago thankfully, now we just need to revive Beamsprings and SKCM/SKCL Alps and all of us will be happy.

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25 May 2020, 02:42

Hey, some of those old rubber domes were swell! And, this is a bit heretical, some modern rubber domes are even good, and I'm not counting Topre.

In terms of the Alps revival, IMO simplified Alps are 90% the same, which is fine. So hit up those Fukka or Matias switches, my friend!

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