09 June 2013

The Legacy of the Clicky Keyboards

Last year I did a co-op at a company in Minneapolis called Digi International. During the summer there were 11 Software Engineers all working in one big cubicle that we dubbed “The Supercube.” One of the most defining characteristics of this cubicle was the noise of all of us typing away as we coded up various projects.

Keyboards are interesting because they are the interface between humans and computers when it comes to code. Nothing gets into a program source unless it comes through the keyboard. As a result, a keyboard can be incredibly important for programmers.

There are all types of keyboards. There are some that focus on ergonomics to prevent repetitive strain injury, some that focus on durability such as mechanical keyboards, and many more.

The Start of a Legacy

Most of us just used the standard keyboards we were given but four of the interns had “clicky keyboards”. Clicky keyboards are named (obviously) for the sound they make when one types on them.

Each of the clicky keyboards was different. The most impressive was a completely working IBM Model M which was named “The Kremlin” by my Russian friend. It was the first time I had heard about the keyboard but I understood the love for it the instant I tried typing on it.

Another one of my coworkers had a Das Keyboard which is by far the most intimidating of the keyboards. Some models of the Das Keyboards come without lettering on the keys.

The third type of clicky keyboard that was used was a Razer Blackwidow Ultimate. It was by far the most visually pleasing of the keyboards.

The Legacy Continues

I had wanted to buy one while I was there, but I just couldn’t justify spending the money for one. Instead I promised myself that one day I would get a nice clicky keyboard that would last awhile.

Although I didn’t return to Digi this summer, I decided a few weeks into my current internship to make the investment and buy a clicky keyboard. I did a bit of research and asked some friends that I knew and I decided on getting a Das Keyboard. I am a pretty good touch typist so I went with the Model S Ultimate.

The Review

I have only had it a few days but I really, really enjoy typing on it. It’s very easy to tell that the Cherry MX Blue switches are of top notch quality. They are very responsive and seem to be incredibly durable.

The keys sound completely awesome while typing on them as well. My girlfriend isn’t the biggest fan of how loud it is over Google Hangouts and I have a feeling my co-worker that I share an office with isn’t going to enjoy it either, haha.


So far I’m very happy that I bought a nice keyboard that will last for a long time. I am also very glad I went with a Das keyboard.

The fellow interns that I worked with last summer have carried the legacy to various companies. The intern with the Model M will be starting at Microsoft on July 1st. The intern that had the Das Keyboard is starting a career at Google soon. I’m at Amazon and there’s no telling where the other very smart interns will end up as they have yet to graduate.

It’ll be interesting to see where all of the interns from last summer end up and where they will take their clicky keyboards next. The legacy will indeed carry on.

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