a writer's blog

Keyboard Cleaning

Das Keyboard

Das Keyboard

I finally got my new Mac Mini, and since then I’ve been cleaning my desk, drawers, devices, and various keyboards in particular.

The latter I reflected upon at length in four overlong Instagram posts, which I collect here for convenience. (Also, it’s always good to have one’s own platform!)

Keyboard Cleaning Part I (of IV): Das Keyboard, 2005, by Metadot

Based on the Cherry G80-3000; individually weighted PCB-mounted Cherry MX Blue mechanical key switches; IBM Model M click characteristics; blank olyoxymethylene key caps; US Layout.

My absolute workhorse for literally everything I write, ever since it came out in 2005. In two years, throwing a 20th anniversary party for it should be in order.

Keyboard Cleaning Part II (of IV): G413 Carbon, 2017 (2021), by Logitech

5052 aluminum alloy top frame; Romer-G mechanical key switches; red backlighting per key w/ 5 brightness levels; USB passthrough port; media controls; game mode (Windows key disabled; programmable macros); US Layout.

It’s a gaming keyboard, yes, but I bought it exclusively for my coding needs (Lua, mostly; some Python for Ren’py or Godot; and everything internet with Nova). In 2021, it had replaced its predecessor, a mechanical CODE Keyboard with Cherry MX key switches designed by Wayman Kwong (WASD) and Jeff Atwood. The reason was, it had begun to act up, and the backlighting no longer worked. That was sad—not only because it’s a great keyboard, it was also a present from an old friend.

As the G413 wasn’t available with US layout where I live, or even anywhere in Europe, I had to import it from the States, with the consumer-friendly double whammy of hassle and costs you’d expect. But it’s worth every penny! I love it.

Keyboard Cleaning Part III (of IV): IBM Model M, 1985–1994, by IBM/Lexmark

Steel backplate (5.5lb/2.5kg!); buckling-spring key switches; coiled detachable SDL cable; PS/2 (via USB); no Windows keys.

This classic was built by IBM from 1985 to 1990, and after that by IBM’s hardware division Lexmark until 1994. My Model M’s from the last batch before sweeping changes were implemented in 1995.

It’s quite a history. In 1995, at some odd job I did at the time, I rescued it from a packed cart on its way to the freight elevator, loaded with “obsolete” hardware designated for the landfill. (I asked, of course.) As the Model M had already gained cult status and was becoming prohibitively expensive, I didn’t complain about the German layout. For 5 years, I used it to fix other people’s PC problems, and only put it to regular use when I finally switched from Atari to PC in 2000 myself. When I acquired Das Keyboard in 2005, my Model M became my dedicated keyboard for first-person shooters in general and Unreal Tournament in particular, and that’s what I still use it for!

Back in the days on the ancient Epic forums, I once had a chat with CliffyB about the Model M, and he went like, yeah, you know, it’s the best keyboard in the world—you can go out and use it to smash in heads and repel a zombie invasion, and then return to your desk and continue coding with it as if nothing had happened.


Finally, perhaps you heard about the myth that you can put the Model M into the dishwasher? Well *cough* it’s not a myth. I tried it, around 10 years ago—it came out squeaky clean and worked like a charm. Wouldn’t do that again, though.

The Model M is the best.

Keyboard Cleaning WAIT NO UNBOXING Part IV (of IV): Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro

5052 aluminum alloy top frame; Razer Green (clicky) mechanical key switches; ABS Double-Shot keycaps; hybrid onboard memory for up to 5 profiles; command dial; media roller; 4 dedicated media buttons; 5 dedicated macro keys; 3 dedicated macro side buttons; detachable cable; USB passthrough; Razer Chroma RGB underglow lighting; up to 8,000 Hz polling rate; US layout.

A brand-new all-around gaming keyboard for all the games I don’t use my IBM Model M for! (And yes, it was obscenely expensive.)

From time immemorial until 2017, I’d used my IBM Model M for gaming. But it wasn’t well-suited for more modern/complex game types where I didn’t just move and shoot. Then, in 2017, I was given a Roccat Isku Illuminated Gaming Keyboard, a parting gift from a friend who’d bought and used it here in Germany until he returned home. It was fine, much better suited for many games than my Model M. But I was never fully happy with it. Its German layout didn’t bother me (my Model M has a German layout too, after all). It’s the switches! Its Rubberdome key switches are perfectly fine, and I tried my best to adapt. But to no avail—I just *need* mechanical key switches. It’s a clear case of “it’s not you, it’s me,” so to speak!

Now, if I happen to know you, and you would be appreciative of a Roccat Isku, I might give it to you for free next time we meet (no shipping, mind). I don’t want to sell it; I just want to make sure it finds a nice new home.

Now, after all that cleaning, back to work!


If you have something valuable to add or some interesting point to discuss, I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on Mastodon!

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