The History ofMechanical Keyboards
In 1867, the first typewriter to be commercially successful was patented. The Sholes & Glidden typewriter is also the origin of the QWERTY keyboard we still use today. Pressing adjoining keys in quick succession would jam the typewriter, so the QWERTY layout separated more frequent pairs of letters to avoid jamming.
In the decade since the introduction of the Sholes and Glidden, a thriving typewriter industry was developed. These typewriters standardized the layouts and some of the technology that would be used with computers in the future.
Up until 1956, computer users fed their programs into a computer using punched cards or paper tape. This changed when MIT researchers began experimenting with direct keyboard input into computers. Over the next few years, computer keyboards evolved to resemble the keyboards we still use today.
In 1974, "personal computers" officially hit the market. These computers were multi-purpose computers whose size, capabilities, and price made them feasible for personal use. Around this time it became the standard for computers to use a mouse, monitor, and keyboard.
During this time, it also became the standard for computers to include a keyboard. Companies experimented with many different types of keyboard technologies including membrane, chiclet, ultrasonic, and Reed switches. Among these, buckling spring switches became extremely popular with the IBM Model F and later IBM Model M keyboards. These keyboards are still prized by many keyboard enthusiasts today.
During the mid-1980s, a German company called Cherry patented and began marketing their Cherry MX switches. These mechanical switches are the inspiration for almost all mechanical keyboard switches today.
Users cherished IBM's buckling spring switches and Cherry's mechanical switches for their reliability, tactile feedback, and unique feel.
Today, mechanical keyboards are more popular than ever. In addition to the classic Cherry MX switches, many other companies have begun to produce similar switches. In addition to the dozens of switches available, customizable keycaps can make any keyboard unique. There are even artisan keycaps available which are often handmade and one-of-a-kind! From bluetooth to wired, wooden to metal, hot pink to classic cream, there's a mechanical keyboard for everyone!