Das Keyboard meets Das Boot over a good cup of coffee

Posted on by Mike Evans

Was it John Gruber who mentioned, no doubt tongue in cheek, that the requisite for a Mac blogger was, among other things, ownership of a fussy coffee machine and a huge clackety keyboard? I am surely deprived because I have neither. I make do with a jar of Nescafe and an Apple wired keyboard (is it still made? I do like a number pad).

How to take your bean fetish with you everywhere you goWhat is it about coffee that tickles the nerd nerve? I confess I don’t know. But if you are a bean boffin, I have a great tip for you: A Tom Bihn bag in which to transport all your coffee-making paraphernalia wherever your fancy takes you. It’s a Medium Yarn Stuff Sack of all things and I am grateful to joiedwards on the Tom Bihn blog for this insight. All we need now is a Tom Bihn Enormous Yarn Stuff Sack for the monstrous clackety keyboard.

No, philistine that I am, I am unlikely ever to want a Gaggia Classic beside my desk, still less to feel the urge to take it walkies in a Yarn Stuff Sack.  But I am actively sniffing around Das Keyboard. It sounds a bit like Das Boot, so I thought it was a product of Germany. Disappointingly, it turns out to be a Texan Das. No wonder it is a HUGE clackety keyboard.

I can see the logic in typing on a real mechanical keyboard. In practice, if not in theory, it can be faster. Today’s svelte keyboards and, even worse, the tablet’s faux buttons, are lacking in feedback.

I spent a chunk of my life bashing away on mechanical typewriters without even the help of a little electric motor to help push the typebar on to the paper. There is still something satisfying about this, and I retain a 1926 Underwood for the odd nostalgia fix. If I could find someone to wire it up to the iMac I would be in typists’ heaven.

It’s amazing how fast you can type on an old manual keyboard. There’s a certain rhythm about a sturdy mechanically linked contraption that you cannot now achieve, even with an old-fashioned electric typewriter. Drop the rhythm and your typebars go clackety crash. My favourite mechanical typewriter was a 1960s Olympia desk machine that I found in an office cupboard. The typing action was sublime, a tactile feast, and the finished results knocked Remington, Imperial and Underwood into touch. Those were the days.

Now, thanks to the likes of Gruber, Shawn Blanc and other writers, I am being propelled towards the dubious delights of Das Keyboard. Despite its supreme ugliness and massive footprint, maybe this is just what I have been looking for all these years. Clackety clack, I shall investigate and report back.

Here is Justin Williams’ pragmatic review of Das K.

Have we not spent the last ten years trying to escape from beasts like this? Nevertheless, Das Keyboard is like a U-Boot on a mission, demolishing everything in its path. First the Mac bloggers succumb, next week it’s you

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