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When did mechanical keyboards become popular?

This is actually a trick question.

cherry office keyboard
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Mechanical keyboards have become super popular lately, with everyone from established brands to new upstarts releasing all kinds of models to tempt your wallets. They’re really the go-to for most computer users that I know now, even those that use laptops as their primary machine.

It’s easy to see how they’re so popular, with their sound, feel, and the amount of typing enjoyment that they bring to the user. With how crowded the marketplace is nowadays, just when did mechanical keyboards become the must-have accessory?

So, when did mechanical keyboards really become popular?

Short answer: This is kind of a trick question, as the keyboards on early computers were almost always mechanical, like the famous Model M from IBM.

See, before the ’90s, most keyboards were mechanical. Then the membrane dome-type keyboards came into play, and computer manufacturers started using those as they were cheaper to manufacture and include with prebuilt systems.

Then, for a while, these types of keyboards turned into a niche product, until the last decade when gaming companies realized that they could market the more tactile feeling key switches to gamers desperate to improve their gaming performance.

So, there you have it. A quick explainer on the origin of the mechanical keyboard and its return to the limelight in recent years.

What do you think? Do you prefer mechanical keyboards over membrane ones? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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