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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

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 from 1867. This “Type-Writer”, created by Christopher Sholes, was also the first example of the QWERTY layout we still use today.

150 or so years after the invention of the mechanical keyboard, Thomas Edison created the Universal Stock Ticker, which was the first electric typewriter. It could even send messages across the telegraph lines to a remote location. 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 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.

There you have it, a quick history lesson involving the keyboard! Surprised that it has been around in some form or another for as long as it has?

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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