A strange rubber-dome...
I’m currently visiting my parents in San Francisco during spring break. While here I decided to further pursue my newfound hobby of keyboarding and see if I could find our old, Windows 95-era keyboards lying about.
I found two! They’re these off-brand “Digital” rubber-dome with slider keyboards. They got the standard beige aesthetic of most of the old keyboard you’ve seen. One of them is pretty messy and begs to be left alone, while the other (the one I’m currently typing on) is in decent enough shape.
A lot of the keys don’t work, from nearly all of the right-side modifiers (thank gawd Enter still works) to half of the navigation and arrow keys as well as a couple of numpad keys for good measure. Thankfully the 60% core works fine, which means typing can be done (although you better have your Vim shortcuts down as you’re certainly not going to get any use out of the function cluster!).
Like many of these types of keyboards, it doesn’t feature a Windows key. As I’m currently using a MacBook I didn’t think this would be much of a problem until I rudely discovered that none of the keys served as a Command key. Thankfully OSX surprisingly lets you remap modifiers in the global settings, including the Capslock key, so now I happily have the Capslock key doing all of my Command work.
The keys feel honestly not bad for a rubber-dome keyboard. Of course I would of preferred to have hit gold and found a buckling springs keyboard, but it’s fine. Like most rubber-dome keyboards, it’s pretty much either up or down, there’s no way of not bottoming out. Thankfully though it’s got the high-travel that many rubber-domes from that era had, versus the flat-as-possible domes we’re given these days.
The spacebar funny enough uses a wire stabilizer (maybe this is not funny and all keyboards of this time do this). It ends up feeling a lot snappier than the other keys because of this, and has a suiting sound as well. Not that the rest of the keys are terribly mushy; it’s definitely a soft bottom, but it doesn’t feel unpleasant by any means.
I think this exercise has given me a much further appreciation of what a mechanical keyboard offers, while also making me realize that it’s definitely unfair to dismiss rubber-domes outright. It also has made me realize what can happen if you don’t clean your keyboards, so I definitely recommend doing that…