I currently use the ZSA Moonlander mechanical keyboard, a tool that substantially increased my typing performance and satisfaction.
I have used many others ever since I bought my first mechanical keyboard over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been following the burgeoning hobby. Recently, I watched as COVID-19 lockdowns began and people began investing into their desk setups. As a result, the mechanical hobby exploded in popularity.
Humanity’s obsession with tools comes as no surprise given our long history of building tools to improve our lives. The need to tweak and tinker with tools is a natural extension of that practice.
For knowledge workers, the primary tools — computers — are mass-produced and differ very little. The mechanical keyboard, with its endless customizability, offers a rare sandbox for tinkerers to play in.
Due to the ubiquity of USB-C and Cherry-style switches (the patent expired a long time ago), mechanical keyboards offer a level of modularity and interoperability that is rarely seen in other spaces. You can buy a keyboard case and PCB from one shop, get the switches from another, and then the keycaps from yet another. Bigger companies offer prebuilt setups. Smaller outfits may make only cables, or meticulously crafted artisan keycaps.
Since the hobby is so wide and deep, it supports each individual having their own unique preferences, such as aesthetics, sound, and feel.
This year, while my kids were napping, I slipped away to Guildhouse in San Jose. With camera in hand, I walked the aisles, admiring the community’s keyboards and chatting with others about our shared passion.
What follows are a selection of photos I took that day.
Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this. Cover image based on Mechanical Keyboard Designer by Erin Keeffe.