Mechanical keyboards – with their dizzying variety of switches and light-up effects – are all the rage these days, but for many old-school enthusiasts, nothing beats the Model M. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney revealed his love for IBM’s 1985 buckling-spring keyboard yesterday, describing it as the “peak” typing experience.
“So I busted out my IBM PC keyboard model M. I wrote ZZT and Unreal Engine 1 on this thing,” Sweeney tweeted. “With apologies to Moore’s Law, I gotta say – 1984 was peak keyboard. The code just types out better with these keys.”
So I busted out my IBM PC keyboard model M. I wrote ZZT and Unreal Engine 1 on this thing. With apologies to Moore’s Law, I gotta say – 1984 was peak keyboard. The code just types out better with these keys. pic.twitter.com/3j0V3eujqt— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) April 4, 2020
The original, IBM-branded Model M keyboard was discontinued over two decades ago, but certain outfits – such as Unicomp Inc. – have continued producing faithful representations for typing connoisseurs to purchase. (Unicomp says that it’s been producing “the buckling spring ‘click’ keyboard for IBM and thousands of discriminating users worldwide for 23 years.”)
As noted above, it’s the buckling-spring design that separates IBM’s Model M keyboard from the rest. This is a keyswitch mechanism that comprises a coil spring and buckles, which results in a very satisfying noise and tactile feel while typing. The Model M is also built like a tank compared to the modern keyboards – it’s got a backplate made of steel.