Dick Harris question/answer thread

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

29 May 2021, 23:22

Hi everyone.

This thread will be for questions for Dick Harris inventor of numerous keyboards and their switches including beam and buckling springs. Dick is open to answering questions and interacting with everyone on the forum and has created an account. It was an absolute pleasure speaking with you Dick!

I will start us off, how did you start at IBM and what got you started making switches like the Beamspring?

User avatar
ZedTheMan

29 May 2021, 23:43

Hi Dick! It is an honour to be able to communicate with you in some form. Many communities might not be as interested in an inventor of keyboards and switches, but here, it is an honor.

I wanted to let you know that I think you have designed some of the greatest keyboard switches to have existed, and that they are still relevant today within our community is something of a testament to that, especially when compared with other computer hardware of the time.

As for a few questions:
1. What keyboard(s) do you use nowadays?
2. Do you keep examples of your inventions around? Prototypes, maybe?
3. What is your personal favorite invention, if you have one?

User avatar
Muirium
µ

29 May 2021, 23:50

Best two clicky switches of all time. Thank him from all of us on the big blue side of Deskthority!

I'd love to know about the history of beamspring's genesis: how did IBM get from the Selectric to the beamspring, and why? What happened along the way? Got any tales of whole other designs which could have been?

And I'd like to hear about his impressions of the move from Model F to Model M. Did it hurt him like it does some of us? Was it really all about cost cutting? And how does he feel about the Model M being the keyboard with the popular legend still behind it to this day? Comparatively few of us even know about the Model F, let alone the beamspring.

Oh, and see what he feels about the current prices beamsprings go for! How do low to mid four-figure auctions compare to their original (keyboard) unit price?

Thanks for the good stuff, good man! Typed from my Model F AT, still very much alive and clicking after all these years.
Last edited by Muirium on 30 May 2021, 10:42, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
sharktastica

29 May 2021, 23:52

Welcome, Dick!

I have a few questions if that's alright! :)

1. How does it feel that your switch designs have continued to have such an impact and following decades after you designed them?

2. In 1972, you created this switch design (patent no US3693059A) that as far as people know, was never implemented into a product. Do you have any insight on it and was it a candidate for being put into use/production?

3. Whilst I believe you didn't have a role in the design of it, do you have an opinion of how IBM evolved your capacitive buckling springs design into a membrane one for the Model M?

On another note, I think a lot would like to thank you for your work! Especially as a site owner of an IBM (and company) keyboard database and resources website, I'm glad to have this hobby in my life and to have the best possible typing instruments to get work done with! :D

User avatar
depletedvespene

30 May 2021, 00:06

Welcome!

I have plenty of questions, so I'll start with just a few:

- Most beamspring keyboards have latching keys (for Caps Lock or Shift Lock), whereas buckling spring keyboards never have. Had they been fully phased out by the time the buckling springs have come about? If they hadn't been so, were (at least prototype) versions of buckling springs latching keys ever made?

- Was your work more on the switches aspect of the keyboards, or did you pull duty in the arrangement of their physical layout? I would love to know what kinds of compromises and agreements were made when designing the Enhanced layout, what kinds of ideas didn't "make" the cut, etcetera.

- Was the idea of placing the lock lights in the relevant keys, or at least close by, attempted but not succesfully made, or did no one bother to try?

- Are there any surviving documents detailing how to implement, or sources for, the different national layouts (Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)?

- If you could magically make one change to all keyboards in the world, what would it be?

Rayndalf

30 May 2021, 06:47

Why does the F AT have so many future proofing features (stabilizer mount for 2u backspace, additional contacts on either side of the space bar), was that module intended to be used in different cases like the module used in the XT?

User avatar
Weezer

30 May 2021, 11:54

I'd like to know where he gets his inspiration for his inventions from. What is his process?

What's his favorite invention of his?

How does he feel about people fawning over his clicky switch designs?

Does he feel like he was fairly compensated for his work by IBM?
Last edited by Weezer on 30 May 2021, 14:33, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Weezer

30 May 2021, 12:03

Rayndalf wrote:
30 May 2021, 06:47
Why does the F AT have so many future proofing features (stabilizer mount for 2u backspace, additional contacts on either side of the space bar), was that module intended to be used in different cases like the module used in the XT?
Many model f keyboards had this to some extent. The 4704s have the clips for the enter key from the AT, for example. I think IBM was focusing on reducing future R&D and had mapped out all the possible key combos when they designed the layouts.

pandrew

30 May 2021, 13:46

Hey Dick,

What is your opinion of the Model M design decision to add what I call cushions, or shock absorbers into the flipper of the Model M?

See this video I made, to clarify what I'm referring to. It shows how the stem gradually absorbs shock by bending if you press hard after it bottoms out, because the little slopes on the flipper force it to move (unlike in the F design):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFGt8Bo8E18
And see this video where I'm comparing Model F flippers vs a Model M flipper vs a modified Model M flipper (inside an M2 keyboard. In this second video I didn't press too hard to test the cushioning mechanism.):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdyspUhFPro

I'm very curious about what you think about this, I'm conflicted about it. On one hand I'm all for protecting peoples joints, but I'm not sure if it actually achieves any protection at all. Or maybe I could be wrong and maybe its purpose is not at all to protect heavy typists fingers.

Also I would love to read/hear/watch any stories you may have to tell, have you considered maybe getting interviewed on video by someone? I would absolutely love to watch a sort of fireside chat, with you telling stories of how our favorite keyboard switches came to be.

User avatar
Mandarbmax

31 May 2021, 01:07

Howdy, Dick,

Thanks for making those buckling springs keyboards for us all, I think I speak for all of us when I say they are a lot of fun to play around with.

What kind of keyboard do you use/like best?

What kinds of designs did you look into before you came to the final products you are known for today? Did you start with lighter/heavier springs and then modify them to the weighting used in the model F? Did you even start off knowing that you would be making a buckling spring based switch design?

Thanks for your time, Dick. Well wishes!

User avatar
Nasanieru

31 May 2021, 01:42

Hello, Dick! I hope you are well.

Would you happen to know more about the origins of the AT&T buckling springs that hold certain similarities to the Model M design? They have been observed to have some striking resemblances to your design but are thought to be an AT&T product.
Spoiler:
Image
Similarly, IBM Japan contracted out the manufacture of several Japanese-market keyboards such as the 5576-A01 to Brother. Would you happen to know something about those as well?
Spoiler:
Image
Your original capacitive design is an incredible product, and I wish you the best!

-Nate
Last edited by Nasanieru on 31 May 2021, 01:57, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

31 May 2021, 01:47

Hi Dick. I'm glad to see you around. I have had some questions for a long time and I would appreciate if they were answered:

We know for patents and the categorization of IBM switches in general that there were a lot of candidats to be in the place which was finally ocuped by beamsprings switches, and later buckling spring switches. Do you remember (or even better, have documentation) about the obscure switches that never went out of the oven?

Is the overall profile of the beamspring keyboards fully intentional or just a trivial decision of the era? I'm talking about the stair configuration of the keycaps, produced by the angled stems, the sculpted profile and the angle of the keyboards by themselves.

It is a delight to be able to ask this to the brain behind such pieces of engineering. Thanks, fella!

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Jun 2021, 05:11

Spoiler:
SneakyRobb wrote:
29 May 2021, 23:22
Hi everyone.

This thread will be for questions for Dick Harris inventor of numerous keyboards and their switches including beam and buckling springs. Dick is open to answering questions and interacting with everyone on the forum and has created an account. It was an absolute pleasure speaking with you Dick!

I will start us off, how did you start at IBM and what got you started making switches like the Beamspring?
Hi, For this round of questions I will reply for Dick.

Sneaky Robb

1. how did you start at IBM and what got you started making switches like the
Beamspring?

"I started with IBM at a new location for them at the Research Triangle Park between Raleigh
and Durham, NC. The department purpose was to establish a keyboard design that could be
used on all the new IBM systems. This was 1965. Each system design had its own
keyboard requirements and the thought that each system would develop its own unique
mechanisms/key caps was an obvious corporate wide nightmare. A small nucleus of
mechanical and electrical engineers mostly from Endicott, NY moved to the Raleigh area and
with about a half dozen new hires started on the mission. I and two other co-graduates from
NC State joined the group.

Our first project was to emulate the Selectric Typewriter keyboard. The touch and usability
of the Selectric was the gold standard. The concept was to install a strip of small membrane
switches beneath the latch spring of the key lever mechanism and drive the key lever
assembly with a solenoid. The touch was preserved, but the design fell short of the need for
adaptable key layouts and it was very expensive. The need for a modular key mechanism
was clear and I was right in the middle of the group that could make it happen. So I started
on concepts of key mechanisms that offered a touch near that of the Selectric and the
flexibilities that were consistent with the department’s mission.

Here are a couple ideas that fortunately never saw the light of day."
Concept 1.png
Concept 1.png (3.94 MiB) Viewed 4461 times
Concept 2.png
Concept 2.png (671.15 KiB) Viewed 4461 times
Last edited by SneakyRobb on 02 Jun 2021, 05:42, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Jun 2021, 05:13

Spoiler:
ZedTheMan wrote:
29 May 2021, 23:43
Hi Dick! It is an honour to be able to communicate with you in some form. Many communities might not be as interested in an inventor of keyboards and switches, but here, it is an honor.

I wanted to let you know that I think you have designed some of the greatest keyboard switches to have existed, and that they are still relevant today within our community is something of a testament to that, especially when compared with other computer hardware of the time.

As for a few questions:
1. What keyboard(s) do you use nowadays?
2. Do you keep examples of your inventions around? Prototypes, maybe?
3. What is your personal favorite invention, if you have one?
Answering as above for now on behalf of Dick.

ZedTheMan –

1. What keyboard(s) do you use nowadays?

"I’ve never been a very enthusiastic keyboard guy. My typing skills hardly stress my cell phone keyboard (which I think is horrible). Currently I’m using a Logitech wireless keyboard – rubber dome/basic."

2. Do you keep examples of your inventions around? Prototypes, maybe?

"I have kept some prototypes of designs that were considered. Management has always been very supportive and I was allowed to model about anything that I thought worthwhile."

3. What is your personal favorite invention, if you have one?

"That’s a tough question. In addition to keyboards, I spent over 25 years designing printers and other point of sale equipment. Two major keyboard projects were followed by three major printer projects with several other projects in between. I contributed to over 80 patents with maybe half that made it into a product. However, I think the Keyboard F buckling spring is my favorite. The buckling spring seems to be a model of elegance. In very few parts it accomplishes the function of an excellent keyboard."
Last edited by SneakyRobb on 02 Jun 2021, 05:42, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Jun 2021, 05:17

Spoiler:
Muirium wrote:
29 May 2021, 23:50
Best two clicky switches of all time. Thank him from all of us on the big blue side of Deskthority!

I'd love to know about the history of beamspring's genesis: how did IBM get from the Selectric to the beamspring, and why? What happened along the way? Got any tales of whole other designs which could have been?

And I'd like to hear about his impressions of the move from Model F to Model M. Did it hurt him like it does some of us? Was it really all about cost cutting? And how does he feel about the Model M being the keyboard with the popular legend still behind it to this day? Comparatively few of us even know about the Model F, let alone the beamspring.

Oh, and see what he feels about the current prices beamsprings go for! How do low to mid four-figure auctions compare to their original (keyboard) unit price?

Thanks for the good stuff, good man! Typed from my Model F AT, still very much alive and clicking after all these years.
Again posting for Dick.

1. I'd love to know about the history of beamspring's genesis: how did IBM get from the Selectric to the beamspring, and why?

"My answer to SneakyRobb should touch on this. Let me know if you need more detail."

2. What happened along the way? Got any tales of whole other designs which could have been?

"The photo below was a mechanism that cocked a hammer which was snapped to impact a membrane switch producing an impulse, short duration contact. The membrane switch was designed to be a folded mylar assembly that became known as the “Origami Keyboard”. In a meeting our manufacturing team explained that the etching tanks required manufacture the number of keyboards for the proposed application would be as large as our parking lot. That information and issues with the switch assembly caused the demise of the program."
Concept 2.png
Concept 2.png (671.15 KiB) Viewed 4447 times
Origami Key Mechanism
Patent No.3,662,138


3. And I'd like to hear about his impressions of the move from Model F to Model M. Did it hurt him like it does some of us? Was it really all about cost cutting? And how does he feel about the Model M being the keyboard with the popular legend still behind it to this day? Comparatively few of us even know about the Model F, let alone the beamspring.

"Actually I had already moved away for keyboard development when this work on the Model M was being done and they never needed to consult me. Cost reduction while maintaining function has always been a driving force behind most of my work and the Model M promised significant cost reduction. The membrane switch gave up a couple features of Model F which are n-key role over and potentially some ambiguity on switch break, but these have turned out to be minimal. When I see the design, I still see a buckling spring which is satisfying. I think Alps has a pretty clever design to relieve some of the spring tolerances, but there again I still see a buckling spring."


4. Oh, and see what he feels about the current prices beamsprings go for! How do low to mid four-figure auctions compare to their original (keyboard) unit price?

"Our target for Keyboard F was $35 manufacturing cost. It’s humbling that not only do these keyboards still work, that anyone would pay so much for the keyboard and frankly that after 40 years that anyone would care."
Last edited by SneakyRobb on 02 Jun 2021, 05:42, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Jun 2021, 05:21

Spoiler:
sharktastica wrote:
29 May 2021, 23:52
Welcome, Dick!

I have a few questions if that's alright! :)

1. How does it feel that your switch designs have continued to have such an impact and following decades after you designed them?

2. In 1972, you created this switch design (patent no US3693059A) that as far as people know, was never implemented into a product. Do you have any insight on it and was it a candidate for being put into use/production?

3. Whilst I believe you didn't have a role in the design of it, do you have an opinion of how IBM evolved your capacitive buckling springs design into a membrane one for the Model M?

On another note, I think a lot would like to thank you for your work! Especially as a site owner of an IBM (and company) keyboard database and resources website, I'm glad to have this hobby in my life and to have the best possible typing instruments to get work done with! :D
On behalf of Dick.

sharktastica

1. How does it feel that your switch designs have continued to have such an impact and following decades after you designed them?

"It’s humbling, a blessing and very satisfying. I have been a Christian for all my working career and my life verse has been Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” At the time of development we did the best we could do with sound design. We were in an environment where quality was emphasized. The current attention and interest are an unexpected blessing from a greater designer that I am."

2. In 1972, you created this switch design (patent no US3693059A) that as far as people know, was never implemented into a product. Do you have any insight on it and was it a candidate for being put into use/production?

"Reliability of the contact in that design was questionable. At the time, n-key role over was a requirement for throughput keyboards and we didn’t know how to do that economically with a contact. As I recall, the production volume estimates for a low throughput keyboard did not justify our development cost. The design was never produced to my knowledge."

3. Whilst I believe you didn't have a role in the design of it, do you have an opinion of how IBM evolved your capacitive buckling springs design into a membrane one for the Model M?

"As I’ve said in other posts, I was not involved with the design. The patent references lower cost, and I assume that justified the change to membrane switches. Time has proven that the design is sound."
Last edited by SneakyRobb on 02 Jun 2021, 06:09, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

02 Jun 2021, 05:25

Spoiler:
depletedvespene wrote:
30 May 2021, 00:06
Welcome!

I have plenty of questions, so I'll start with just a few:

- Most beamspring keyboards have latching keys (for Caps Lock or Shift Lock), whereas buckling spring keyboards never have. Had they been fully phased out by the time the buckling springs have come about? If they hadn't been so, were (at least prototype) versions of buckling springs latching keys ever made?

- Was your work more on the switches aspect of the keyboards, or did you pull duty in the arrangement of their physical layout? I would love to know what kinds of compromises and agreements were made when designing the Enhanced layout, what kinds of ideas didn't "make" the cut, etcetera.

- Was the idea of placing the lock lights in the relevant keys, or at least close by, attempted but not succesfully made, or did no one bother to try?

- Are there any surviving documents detailing how to implement, or sources for, the different national layouts (Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)?

- If you could magically make one change to all keyboards in the world, what would it be?
Posting on behalf of Dick for the time being.

depletedvespene

1. Most beamspring keyboards have latching keys (for Caps Lock or Shift Lock), whereas buckling spring keyboards never have. Had they been fully phased out by the time the buckling springs have come about? If they hadn't been so, were (at least prototype) versions of buckling springs latching keys ever made?

"I don’t remember a definite decision being made, but my guess is that the complexity of the latching mechanism was difficult to justify over electronically toggling the signal."

2. Was your work more on the switches aspect of the keyboards, or did you pull duty in the arrangement of their physical layout? I would love to know what kinds of compromises and agreements were made when designing the Enhanced layout, what kinds of ideas didn't "make" the cut, etcetera.

"IBM had an excellent Human Factors team who understood the system requirements and any mechanical limitations. They were responsible for the key nomenclature arrangements. My work was to provide the electro-mechanical switch and the package. Keyboard F consisted of three main inventions: the buckling spring capacitive actuator, the curve that allowed the key tops to emulate the typewriter key tops with a common button shape for each row and the subliming dye process for the nomenclature that saved a fortune in tooling cost of two-shot molded keybuttons. These were all in my area of responsibility."

3. Was the idea of placing the lock lights in the relevant keys, or at least close by, attempted but not succesfully made, or did no one bother to try?

"I remember considering adding an indicating light to the key top, but was never able to find a design that seemed reliable. Also, the added complexity to the total keyboard assembly process would be difficult to justify."

4. Are there any surviving documents detailing how to implement, or sources for, the different national layouts (Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)?

"I don’t know of any source. Layouts were done by others."

5. If you could magically make one change to all keyboards in the world, what would it be?

"Eliminate the need for a keyboard. It’s really a pretty archaic means as an interface. The very origin of the QWERTY layout is inefficiency. It was designed so that the operator could not out-run the typewriter and cross up the type levers. How about an entry system that reads the mind. Voice is nearly there, but it’s hard to have a quiet environment."

User avatar
ZedTheMan

02 Jun 2021, 06:05

Wow. This is a veritable treasure trove of information. Thank you for blessing us with your experiences and thoughts, Dick!

User avatar
Weezer

02 Jun 2021, 06:16

I love that he uses a logitech rubber dome keyboard.

User avatar
Weezer

02 Jun 2021, 06:22

"What is your personal favorite invention, if you have one?"

I missed this when I asked my questions. Robb can you leave out my question of a similar nature if he hasn't seen it yet? No need to have him answer repeats. Instead please replace my question about the favorite invention with what he thinks of the current state of AI and systems that do read the mind, and if he's worried about that technology being used in a potentially greedy or nefarious way. Thanks.

User avatar
darkcruix

02 Jun 2021, 09:48

Thank you immensely for the time you gift to us!

1. How did the Keyboard B evolve into Keyboard F? I assume, a driving force was cost reduction and reduction of switch height. What would interest me is the nomenclature. The B, F, and M are well known models, but have there been others built? Was there ever the C, D, E - Switch design (on paper, model, or in small production runs)? And was Keyboard A the early MicroSwitch variant?

2. I am writing on a Technical Handbook for the Model F keyboards and would like to add quotes mentioned here to the book (obviously not without prior approval). I am also very interested on the history and would like to add the one or other anecdote to the manual (https://www.bucklingspring.com).

Can't thank you enough, Dick, for the joy you brought into my life with your inventions.

God bless you!
Last edited by darkcruix on 02 Jun 2021, 16:45, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

02 Jun 2021, 15:54

Hi Dick, glad to see you here. I want you know that the beamspring and more so model F are my favorite switches of all time. Thanks for creating these wonderful designs!

User avatar
ZedTheMan

02 Jun 2021, 16:09

Dick,

1. Is it true that the need for a new keyswitch design to follow the beamspring, leading to the buckling spring, was due to a new ISO standard about keyboard height?

2. Are you aware of the modern recreations of the 4704 line of banking terminal Model F keyboards? What do you think of that endeavor?

3. Would you be willing to share info on other prototypes or sketches you may have? They are uniquely fascinating to me and I am certain many others.

User avatar
Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

02 Jun 2021, 17:35

ZedTheMan wrote:
02 Jun 2021, 16:09
3. Would you be willing to share info on other prototypes or sketches you may have? They are uniquely fascinating to me and I am certain many others.
I second this. The two sketches that have already been shown are very interesting. :P

User avatar
zrrion

02 Jun 2021, 20:09

Hello Dick,

Would you be able to provide some insight into the key layout evolution from the F XT to the F AT and then from the F AT to the Model M? Were any noteworthy/unusual ideas floated before settling on the layouts that made it to market or was it more of a gradual evolution?

Dick Harris

03 Jun 2021, 00:39

Weezer wrote:
30 May 2021, 11:54
I'd like to know where he gets his inspiration for his inventions from. What is his process?
At least during my working career, I almost always lived with at least one problem that was worth solving and that I didn’t know how to solve. These problems might come from marketing requirements, customer needs/desires or something that I had decided would be really significant if implemented in a practical way. I’ve always been curious about how things work and had an appreciation of clever solutions/designs. Over the years this curiosity has built mental library of examples of problems solved, principles that make things work and an understanding of how mechanisms behave under certain situations. So having this library and a well understood/defined problem an invention occurs when I am able to match the right library item with the problem. Usually, the problem has exhausted the existing library and the “Ah Ah” moment comes from a new addition to the library. So continually making the effort to understand things is needed. Sometime you might understand the solution and not know it.
An example: the Keyboard F module design was 5 or 6 years after the buckling spring contact module. Having completed the beam-spring keyboard, it was clear that the next generation keyboard would have to be lower cost and lower profile. This new problem started a search through my existing mental library which contained the buckling spring contact module and several new designs for the best solution. Things were progressing pretty slow until it was discovered that the buckling spring with unconstrained end condition could actuate a capacitive element and become Keyboard F. That truly was an eureka moment. I was up well into the morning drafting the invention disclosure.
I’m sure there is more that adds to the inventive process like being willing to take risk for the right reason, having the right motives, etc.

What's his favorite invention of his? I guess Keyboard F’s buckling spring.

How does he feel about people fawning over his clicky switch designs? Humbled

Does he feel like he was fairly compensated for his work by IBM? When I joined IBM, it was the premiere company in the world. It was a job for life and that’s the way it turned out for me. IBM had a generous patent awards program that I was blessed to participate in it. I never thought that I could afford my own ideas, and IBM provided a means for me to contribute. I’ve had days when I felt like I would do my job for nothing, and I had days when I felt completely overlooked and misunderstood. Fortunately, the good days far offset the bad days. While many times my contributions initiated the project, the end product turned out far better. This because of the fabulous teams that brought their own skills and talent to the project. I don’t ever remember asking of a raise, and I have had enough. So, yes I would say I was fairly compensated.

User avatar
Weezer

03 Jun 2021, 01:03

Dick Harris wrote:
03 Jun 2021, 00:39
Humbled
Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!

keyboard Kultist

03 Jun 2021, 02:05

Mr. Harris,

Many have expressed far better than I the gratitude we have for both the wonderful keyboards themselves and that you are taking time to answer all these questions.

Therefore I will just say thank you, and God bless.

Dick Harris

03 Jun 2021, 02:11

pandrew wrote:
30 May 2021, 13:46
Hey Dick,

What is your opinion of the Model M design decision to add what I call cushions, or shock absorbers into the flipper of the Model M? It looks like a free means for a soft down stop. There may be some debris created here, but I would think that it should cause no problem.

See this video I made, to clarify what I'm referring to. It shows how the stem gradually absorbs shock by bending if you press hard after it bottoms out, because the little slopes on the flipper force it to move (unlike in the F design):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFGt8Bo8E18
And see this video where I'm comparing Model F flippers vs a Model M flipper vs a modified Model M flipper (inside an M2 keyboard. In this second video I didn't press too hard to test the cushioning mechanism.):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdyspUhFPro

I'm very curious about what you think about this, I'm conflicted about it. On one hand I'm all for protecting peoples joints, but I'm not sure if it actually achieves any protection at all. Or maybe I could be wrong and maybe its purpose is not at all to protect heavy typists fingers.

Also I would love to read/hear/watch any stories you may have to tell, have you considered maybe getting interviewed on video by someone? I would absolutely love to watch a sort of fireside chat, with you telling stories of how our favorite keyboard switches came to be. Maybe that would work. Let's see how the written word works.

Dick Harris

03 Jun 2021, 03:14

Mandarbmax wrote:
31 May 2021, 01:07
Howdy, Dick,

Thanks for making those buckling springs keyboards for us all, I think I speak for all of us when I say they are a lot of fun to play around with. Thanks, Keyboard F was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling projects of my 50 year career.

What kind of keyboard do you use/like best? I type poorly so the benefits of the beam-spring and F are wasted on me. I use what should have been a cheap Logitech wireless keyboard.

What kinds of designs did you look into before you came to the final products you are known for today? Did you start with lighter/heavier springs and then modify them to the weighting used in the model F? Did you even start off knowing that you would be making a buckling spring based switch design? Even during the development of the beam-spring keyboard we investigated different ways to sense a keystroke. We looked at ultrasonic delay line, magnetic, optical and various orientations of capacitive. With the n-key role over requirement and our established experience with capacitive it was the clear candidate. We looked at several different mechanical key designs but there were not many that met the mechanical requirements. The most constraining requirement was unambiguous make and break points. This meant that the snap on key depression guaranteed switch make and the return snap guaranteed switch break, and no other point in the key stroke would change the state of the switch. Soon after the buckling spring was described, it was pretty clear that it would be the key mechanism of choice. I can’t remember any of the alternate designs that were considered.

Thanks for your time, Dick. Well wishes!

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