by Tino Soelberg
In 2004 we wanted to enter the keyboard category - this was a very natural step, but we wanted to make sure that we brought something unique to the gaming peripheral industry.
Gaming keyboards had been around for years, with functionality like macro buttons and limited illumination. The durability of the early gaming keyboards was exactly the same as every other keyboard; they were based on exactly the same rubber membranes.
From the industrial sector, we knew that the durability of mechanical switches far outshines that of their rubber counterparts, and we knew that advanced typists always preferred mechanical switches in their keyboards. We believed that if we could introduce this to gaming then we would create a revolution in gaming keyboards.
Mechanical switch keyboards are by inherently more expensive to produce than rubber membrane types: every switch is molded on its own, inserted individually to the PCB through a metal (in our case) plate and mounted. Also the key cap molding is more complex and prone to errors than membrane products; all in all a lot more complicated and expensive.
In 2004 we released the worlds first mechanical keyboard targeted at gaming; The SteelKeys 6G. It was a great product, “built like a tank” was the slogan even back then, and it was truly amazing for its time. It featured linear black MX switches which has since become a firm ingredient in all our mechanical keyboards.
It took a long time for the gaming world to truly appreciate the wonders of mechanical switches, and it wasn’t until 2009 that the mechanical keyboard market really took off. By then the SteelKeys 6G had been retired and taken over by the 7G and 6Gv2.
Mechanical switches are still one of the best keyboarding experiences and will continue to be for a while. It is an interesting case of going back and looking at past inventions and applying them in a new context. There is still lots of great inventions out there that just needs to be picked up and polished off a bit - and we love to dig around!