The Idiocy of Hacker Keyboards

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Das Keyboard

das keyboard 4 ultimate 2016 24804
Das Keyboard. das keyboard

The Das Keyboard. Famous for being a keyboard with no key labels.

Good as a novelty, nothing else.

[see Blank Keycaps vs Labeled Keys]

How much to pay to impress friends? $129!

How did this keyboard came about? According to the official site, the programer and company founder Daniel Guermeur, wanted to learn touch typing. The first thing is to get rid of the key labels, and the rest is history. Quote:

In 2005, in a personal quest to improve his own typing speed and accuracy, Metadot Corporation founder and self-proclaimed “Uber Geek” Daniel Guermeur asked to have a totally blank keyboard created. To his surprise, his typing speed doubled after just a few weeks of use.

As many friends and colleagues who tested the keyboard were mesmerized and wanted one, the business potential became obvious, and Das Keyboard was born.

For the first few years, the company doesn't do key labels. But since about 2008, they started to sell models that have key labels. The reason seems obvious. Without labels, you might sell 1 for every ten thousand programers. But with labels, your sales potential immediately increases by 1000.

Review of Das Keyboard Professional by phototristan,

Also, they introduced mechanical switch for the keys so that you get a good tactile feedback. The “Model S Professional” uses Cherry MX Blue switch, which is very clicky. [see Guide to Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms]

However, i've seen one youtube video that shows a problem of the click-clack mechanism. For some keys, it makes a extraneous click when you put pressure on it. Not sure if that's just a single case of defective device, or defective design. Watch this, this is funny:

Das Keyboard double-click problem. (batfood, )

Das keyboard going for gamer market

das keyboard division zero x40
Das Keyboard Mechanical gaming keyboard Alpha Zulu

Das was primary marketed to programers.

but gamer's market is some thousand times bigger, and keyboard in gamer's market is far more competitive. (meaning, higher quality, cheaper)

many programers are gamers, but programer and gamer communities are distinct. So, programers usually are not aware of the keyboards marketed to gamers.

thus, it annoys me greatly when programers used to blurt out about how great a keyboard they found the das, but in fact the same quality keyboard can be found in gamer community much cheaper. (this also happened with CODE Keyboard a couple years ago.)

i wrote a rant about it.

though, that was 6 years ago. Today, there's a explosion of mechanical keyboard market, and as well ergonomic ones such as Ergodox and Truly Ergonomic Keyboard etc.

so, how good is Das? I can't really say. To me, the IBM PC shaped mechanical keyboard are pretty much the same. Happy Hacking, Filco, Das, Cooler Master, Ducky, Corsair, etc, all the same. There are lots today. See Keyboards without Numeric Keypad. You can buy Das, or other brands, but i see no difference.

What i really care is the number of function keys, extra modifier keys, their position, thumb keys, whether keys are programable. These, are of real import. Functional efficiency, is what i care about.

Happy Hacking Keyboard

The Happy Hacking Keyboard. The worst keyboard possible. No function keys, no number keypad, no {Home, End, Page Up, Page Down, ⌫ Backspace} keys, and no arrow keys!

happy hacking keyboard professional 2 Acetrak
Happy Hacking Keyboard model Professional 2 (with custom key cap for the Escape). (photo by Acetrak. image source) Happy Hacking Keyboard

So, when you need to press F1, now you need to press 2 keys, by holding Fn then press 1. Hacker Progress?

Like other weird keyboards, this one has some kinda hacker association, and is often reviewed on geek sites. Occasionally, you see programers on the web claiming how they love this keyboard.

The name “happy hacking” is probably responsible for boosting its popularity among “hackers”, with the ostensible absence of the Microsoft Windows logo on that modifier key. This makes it popular among linux users. If you own one, you can strike a conversation with it.

I got curious about this keyboard's history. Apparently, it's made by PFU Systems, and the website states: “a Fujitsu company”, of Japan. Quote:

PFU Systems, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of PFU Ltd. of Japan.

That somewhat makes it understandable. If you have visited Japan, you'll notice that everything comes in a miniaturized size. Cars, roads, furniture, office equipment, rice bowels, chopsticks, …, etc.

Cost? A whopping ~$260.

For detail of this keyboard's problem, see: Happy Hacking Keyboard Review.

Optimus Popularis Keyboard

Optimus Popularis Keyboard

List of Keyboards with Mechanical Switch

List of Keyboards with Mechanical Switch

Best Keyboard Gallery

Best Ergonomic Keyboards 2017

Did it help?

Tip me, at patreon

Ask me question on patreon