The Evolution of Mechanical Keyboards: A Brief History

By  //  May 2, 2023

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Mechanical keyboards have been enthusiastic around for decades, but they have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. These keyboards are known for their tactile feedback, durability, and customizable key switches.

They offer a typing experience vastly different from membrane keyboards’ soft, mushy feel. But where did mechanical keyboards come from? In these circumstances, we will discover the evolution of mechanical keyboards from their early origins to the modern day.

Origins of Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards can be traced back to the 1970s. The first mechanical keyboards were built with switches from companies such as Cherry and Alps Electric. These switches were designed to last for years, with some models benefiting a lifespan of up to 100 million keystrokes. The switches were also designed to provide tactile feedback, allowing users to feel when a key had been pressed. This feedback made typing on a mechanical keyboard more enjoyable and satisfying.

One of the first mechanical keyboards to gain popularity was the IBM Model F, released in 1981. The Model F used capacitive buckling-spring key switches, known for their loud, clicky sound and tactile feedback. These switches became a defining characteristic of mechanical keyboards and are still popular among enthusiasts today.

The Decline of Mechanical Keyboards

Despite their popularity among typists and computer enthusiasts, mechanical keyboards declined in the 1990s. However, as computers became more affordable, membrane keyboards became more prevalent. These keyboards used a cheaper, less durable design that lacked the tactile feedback of mechanical keyboards. By the early 2000s, mechanical keyboards had become a niche product used primarily by gamers and enthusiasts. However, this changed in the mid-2000s as mechanical keyboards became popular.

As a result, many computer manufacturers began to phase out mechanical keyboards in favor of membrane keyboards. This led to a decline in the availability of mechanical keyboards, and many enthusiasts began to stockpile older keyboards to preserve them.

The Resurgence of Mechanical Keyboards

In the early 2000s, a small community of computer enthusiasts began to rediscover the joys of mechanical keyboards. These enthusiasts appreciated the tactile feedback and durability of mechanical keyboards and began to seek out older ones that were no longer in production.

At the same time, a few small companies began to produce new mechanical keyboards using modern switch technology. These keyboards were often expensive, but they offered a level of quality and customization unmatched by membrane keyboards.

As the popularity of mechanical keyboards grew, more companies began to produce them. Today, dozens of manufacturers produce mechanical keyboards, and they offer a wide range of switch types, keycap materials, and customization options.

Types of Mechanical Switches

One of the defining features of mechanical keyboards is the variety of switches available. Each switch type offers different tactile and audible feedback, which can significantly impact the typing experience.

Some of the most common switch types include:

Cherry MX switches: Cherry MX switches are one of the most popular switch types, and they are available in a range of colors that provide different tactile feedback. For example, the Cherry MX Blue switch provides clicky and tactile feedback, while the Cherry MX Red switch provides a smoother and quieter typing experience.

Razer switches: Razer switches are specifically for gaming and offer a fast and responsive typing experience. Razer switches are available in green, Orange, and Yellow, each providing a different level of tactile feedback.

Logitech switches: Logitech switches are designed to be fast and precise and are available in various sizes and types. The Logitech Romer-G switch provides a quiet and smooth typing experience, while the Logitech GX Blue switch provides clicky and tactile feedback.

The Advantages of Mechanical Keyboards

Mechanical keyboards offer several advantages over membrane keyboards. One of the main advantages is their long-lastingness. Mechanical keyboards are built to last and withstand years of exceptional use without showing wear and tear.

One more advantage of mechanical keyboards is their tactile feedback. The individual switches beneath each key provide a satisfying “click” sound and tactile feedback when a key is pressed. This makes typing more enjoyable and can also help to reduce typing errors. Mechanical keyboards offer a high level of customization. Many cute mechanical keyboards allow users to swap out keycaps, change the backlighting, and even program custom macros. This level of ed is not possible with membrane keyboards.

The Modern-Day Mechanical Keyboard

Today, mechanical keyboards are more popular than ever. They are used by gamers, programmers, writers, and anyone who values a high-quality typing experience. A wide variety of mechanical keyboards are available, with different types of switches, layouts, and features.

One of the most popular types of mechanical switches is the Cherry MX series. These switches come in different colors, each with different tactile feedback and actuation force levels. For example, the Cherry MX Blue switch is known for its loud, clicky sound and tactile feedback, while the Cherry MX Red switch is quieter and requires less force to actuate.

Other popular switches include the Kailh and Gateron switches, often used as cheaper alternatives to Cherry MX switches. Some keyboards even use custom-designed switches, such as the Topre switch, which combines rubber domes and metal springs to provide a unique typing experience.

In addition to switches, modern mechanical keyboards offer various features and customizability. Many keyboards allow users to customize the lighting, keycaps, and macros, while others offer programmable layers that allow users to assign different functions to each key.


The evolution of mechanical keyboards has been a long and exciting journey. Mechanical keyboards have come a long way from the early buckling-spring switches of the IBM Model F to the modern-day Cherry MX and custom-designed switches. While they may have fallen out of favor for a time, they have seen a resurgence in widespread in recent years, thanks to their durability, tactile feedback, and customizable features.

Whether you are a gamer, programmer, or writer, a mechanical keyboard can offer a typing experience that is both enjoyable and efficient. With so many different types of switches, layouts, and characteristics available, there is sure to be a mechanical keyboard that is perfect for you.