Not Your Grampa’s Keyboard

It’s a mystery. Why do so many of us accept spending moments of our lives we’ll never get back using keyboards that have no personality? Ones that plug into our lives each day but sit on our desks as bland, lifeless, characterless, boring, flat, soul-less hunks of plastic that give us exactly zero joy?

There’s some good news to share: there are sooo many awesome and fun choices to add both comfort and joy to our lives using keyboards that are more suited to our tastes, how we actually work, and in more aesthetically pleasing configurations (in other words fly).

I initially learned to type by sanding the letters and numbers off all the keys so I wouldn’t be able to peek. Learning that way is cool because I can type blindfolded in a pitch-black jungle in a windstorm at blinding speed but not as cool as what the keyboard possibilities are.

I’m writing this in an attempt to transmit to others the subtle but positive impacts that custom keyboards can have when we build them to suit our personality and working style.

No one ever asks if they can borrom my primary personal lappie.

Laptop keyboards are one thing. External mechanical keyboards are an entirely different sport.

In addition to more options to style them out aesthetically, mechanical keyboards can also be configured to match each our own personal ergonomics, bolstering the health of our radiocarpal joints and phalanges, protecting us from Repetitive Motion Injuries (or RMIs for short) so we can continue to work pain-free for years to come (or until keyboards are replaced with something more efficient).

Options for mechanical keyboards are legion, including types of keys: some are loud and clicky, some are super-responsive for gaming, while others are quieter and optimized for long coding sessions.

There are options for many applications and preferences.

Maybe you’re into building your own hardware, in which case there are tons of options for building an ergonomic keyboard from scratch for pennies on the dollar:

Building your own hardware is fun if you’ve got the time.

Reader beware, this is one rabbit hole that will surely lead you to enough choices to melt your face off but more than enough configurations that finding juuust the right thing that suits you has never been more fun. If you’re interested in getting hooked on a new hobby, get ready to spend some hours browsing all the options because there are A LOT of them.

If you’re not into the kind of commitment required to build your own keyboard, here are a couple radical options we love to whet your appetite.

The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

Split-keyboards aren’t for everyone. I’m transparently biased because this is what I currently use in a fully tented (vertically tilted) configuration (blank keys, yeah) because it affords me the greatest comfort and speed.  If split-keyboards are your thing, too, this just might be the Grand Poobah of them all (hat tip to @Bule for turning me onto this one):

This is not your Grampa’s keyboard.

There’s a great review and unboxing here: https://www.allthingsergo.com/review-of-the-ergonomic-split-design-ultimate-hacking-keyboard/

Here are some similar, less-expensive-but-no-less-awesome options for getting into the split-keyboard scene:

JellyKey

This is another big nod to @Bule for turning me onto this! Starting with something like one of the keyboards above, you’re quickly off to the races building something with custom keys that will bring you pleasure to look at while also preserving your healthy wrists and fingers for years to come.

pimpmykeyboard.com and drop.com have some inexpensive and cool color combos that are great for getting started, too. There are artisan key cap artists all over the place, including Etsy.

And keeb.io is a great starting point for custom parts for just about anything having to do with keyboards.

Have fun –> thanks for reading and indulging in some keyboard pr0n.

Know of other cool custom keyboard/keycap resources and inspirations I should know about?

Please share them with me via Twitter!

Interested in keyboard history, too? Keep an eye peeled for Shift Happens –> due out in 2020!