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When did mechanical keyboards first come out?

The actual date might surprise you.

Cherry office keyboard
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Quick Answer: The first mechanical keyboard was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868, which he designed for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter.

With how saturated the computer peripherals market is with mechanical keyboards, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re a recent invention.

After all, your computers came with mushy, membrane keyboards before this, right?

I mean, even the often-copied mechanical key switch that most mechanical keyboards use nowadays, the Cherry MX, was only patented in 1973.

But who said that only computers use mechanical keyboards? The actual invention date might surprise you.

So, when did the first mechanical keyboards come out?

Short answer: This was a bit of a trick question, as the first mechanical keyboard was patented all the way back in 1714, by Henry Mill.

Not much was known about this early typewriter, though. It would become the typewriter that became the ubiquitous Remington, dating back from 1867.

This “Type-Writer,” created by Christopher Sholes, was also the first example of the QWERTY layout we still use today.

Two images of the dvorak querty layout showing original typewriter and old man on a purple background

A lesson on the history of mechanical keyboards

150 or so years after the invention of the mechanical keyboard, Thomas Edison created the Universal Stock Ticker, which was the first electric typewriter.

Surprisingly enough, it could send messages across telegraph lines to remote locations.

It wasn’t until 1964, and the MULTICS computer created by Bell Labs and M.I.T., that we had a computer terminal that resembled the first ever keyboards we use today.

READ MORE: When did mechanical keyboards become popular?

That was further refined in the 1970s, and then in 1986, IBM created the Model M keyboard, which is pretty much the layout that all modern keyboards use, with the F-row of function keys above the QWERTY arrangement.

So, when were mechanical keyboards invented?

With its roots tracing back to the 19th century, the mechanical keyboard has certainly stood the test of time.

And while its design and functionality have evolved significantly over the years, one thing remains constant: its enduring popularity among keyboard enthusiasts and professionals.

Wooting one analog keyboard

From the Model M to the latest Cherry MX switches, mechanical keyboards offer a level of tactile feedback and customization that simply can’t be matched by their membrane-based counterparts.

There you have it, a quick history lesson on mechanical keyboards. Surprised that it has been around in some form or another for as long as it has, right?

Who knows what the future holds, but one thing’s for sure – the mechanical keyboard is here to stay.

What do you think? Did you learn anything from this brief history lesson? 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. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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