Hi, I'm Gene and here's my keyboard story


#1

Hey, All!!!

Been lurking around the various mechanical keyboards sites (i.e. r/MechanicalKeyboards) for a couple of months now and found Keebtalk. I thought I would say hello here and share my keyboard story…

My first computer was an IBM PC XT in the '80s and the keyboard on those things were tanks! Solid with a great feel. It was very much in line with IBM’s mainframe System 370 keyboards I used at work. Solid as a tank. Pure bliss to type on. I loved me my XT keyboard! As these machines age, get slow and fill up, we all move on to bigger and better computers. I continued using my XT keyboard. But, eventually it failed and, me not knowing anything about electronics (I’m a software guy, after all), I put it aside because its just a damn classic. Sad, I know, but such is life.

In the '90’s, I had a newborn daughter, who was turning into a precocious little munchkin. Always getting into things, opening and emptying boxes. She was 18 months old when she found “The Keyboard”. She absolutely loved the clicky-clacky feel of the keys. So, as new fathers are meant to do, I baby-safed the keyboard by removing the old PS2 cable/connector (I know, it didn’t occur to me that the keys might be issue, I didn’t even know they can be removed! Again, it’s hardware, I’m software). She hammered at the keyboard just like her dad, crawled all over it as I worked on my PC (by then it was some 386 intel-based clone). Life continues…

That precocious girl, grows up to be a great kid. Graduates high school, gets into college on a music scholarship and decides (through no fault of my own. Honestly!) to major in CompSci. Following in her dads foot steps. I never really thought that would happen.

So now she’s graduated college and been a software developer for a few years. One day, she comes home to visit and says “Hey, Pops! Check out the new keyboard I just got me!” It turns out she’s got a CODE Mechanical Keyboard. And boy does that feel familiar. Clicky and definitely clacky. Solid and all hell. Just like the one I used to use back when the Earth was cooling. I’m bewildered. She’s talking about key switches, layers, and key combos. I never knew a whole industry and community existed around mechanical keyboards!

Now, I’m hooked. I talk key switches, key caps, layers, Ergo’s and TRSS cables. Now, I’m obsessed, constantly plotting to build my first keyboard, a Redox. Cray-cray as they say. And, ironically, my daughter is the one that turned me back onto mechs! It only just occurred to me that my IBM PC XT keyboard really did have an affect on her. That it really truly was a great keyboard and that mechanical keyboards really are LIFE!

;TLDR;
Man has keyboard. Man has kid. Kid grows up. Kid has keyboard.
<rinse and repeat >

gene


#2

Hi, Gene! That is an absolutely adorable story!

I’m an older guy, myself, and remember the touch and feel of the IBM Selectrics, which was something I aspired to obtain, but never did. Later, I was exposed to various terminals and keyboards, but paid no real attention to any of them. They were just a gateway to interfacing with the real interest, computers, and somewhere along the way, the keyboards started sucking. Still didn’t care, just figured it was the way it was.

My older son asked for a mechanical keyboard for a graduation gift. I was, like, “Sure! What’s that?” So, together, we started doing some research. Found r/mk, geekhack, and DeskThority. We were pretty thoroughly confused, but followed some good advice and bought a switch tester with most of the Cherry MX options. My son liked the Clears the best, but we had a horrible experience trying to remove the cap from the switch. He eventually settled on the browns (LOL). I didn’t know my preferred choice, whites, were kind of rare until we went looking for prebuilt boards. Finally found Ducky Ones that had the switches we both liked, he wanted RGB and I didn’t care about that at all. So, he got his graduation gift and I got a board too.

That’s just the beginning of the story. But, he sucked me into this. That’s all I’m saying.

Now he’s got a pressure pot and is trying to make his own keycaps. I’ve been to four meetups with him and met some wonderful people. I’m on my second board and it’s just exactly right for me. He’s got more boards than toes.

It’s nice to share an interest with your kids. My younger one is happily tapping on that first grad gift board, and I’m not about to tell him that browns kind of suck, I thought it was really nice for his older brother to hand it down to him.

Myself, I settled on a nice 60% aluminum case, Box Navy switches, and MT3 profile keycaps. It’s old guy tested and approved. Let me see if I have a pic.

Yeah, that’s from KeyCon. My board is the one on the bottom. The other one with the artisans is his.


#3

I love this story; thanks for joining up here and sharing! I have a longstanding fondness for vintage IBM keyboards, as they were among the first I ever typed on myself. Have you ever been to the Computer History Museum here in Silicon Valley? It’s one of my favorite places to go ogle old IBM mainframes. Oh, vintage IT industrial design. :heart_eyes:

Did you know that the creator of the CODE keyboard also created the forum software that Keebtalk runs on? :blush:

That was your son’s?! I was gushing all over that keyboard at KeyCon. Such an excellent set of complementary colors and materials.


#4

Nice keyboards you got there! I like the orange WASD keys. And I love those keycaps! I just missed a local mechKb meet up in Long Beach, CA a couple of months back and am still anxiously waiting for another one (anywhere) in L.A. My sample set is pretty limited. I would love to see what everyone’s got and try out different board types to see how they feel.

You’re right, it is just the beginning, albeit a long time to start. I’m in the middle of sourcing parts for my Redox split keyboard. The pcb board and electronic components should arrive in a week or so. I’m still taking my time on the key switches and caps (cherry mx browns and generic amazon keycaps to start), Will put it together with a 3d printed case using ProtoPasta Matte filament in either black or blue, depending on how the key caps look.

Definitely a deep rabbit hole.

g


#5

Did you know that the creator of the CODE keyboard also created the forum software that Keebtalk runs on? :blush:

Yes! It’s funny things are connected!


#6

Oh boy, I’ll be sure to pass that on. So far as he’s concerned, you have a halo and shoot lightning from your fingertips.


#7

And Gene, you are going to love your first meetup whenever you go. I was really self conscious hauling a keyboard under my arm walking in, but I got over it quick. It’s the only way to really get an impression of the stuff you see in pictures. Keyboards can be pretty, but to me, at least, I want to touch and feel.

And the people are even warmer and more welcoming in real life. Probably because, for once, we can talk openly and freely without fear of being misunderstood, on a subject that’s super niche, but dear to us.

I hope you can attend one with your daughter. It’s just the best!


#8

This is an awesome story. I can remember pounding away on an old model M growing up and a few older birds that were my Dad’s from our first comps at home and his from work. A few years ago when I started to get into mech boards, I had him check but alas it had been tossed out along the years.


#9

I can’t wait. My daughter is definitely “down” for that!