Das Keyboard is a series of high-performance computer keyboards sold by Metadot Corporation, an open-source software company located in Austin, Texas. Their most distinctive feature has been the absence of key labels, i.e. the keys themselves are completely blank, thereby supposedly helping to improve touch typing skills and eliminating the need to rearrange keys for alternate keyboard layouts. Labeled versions have also been available since 2008. The current iterations employ mechanical keyswitches.
The name uses the German neuter definite article das, thereby simply translating to "The Keyboard" (although the actual German term for "the keyboard" is die Tastatur). In German, das Keyboard refers instead to a musical keyboard instrument, with the differing commercial use of the term a potential example of Denglisch.
Das Keyboard products
There have been multiple generations of Das Keyboard:
The first iteration ca. 2005 was a black ANSI layout rubber dome keyboard with unlabeled keys in a Model M-like shape. The now-uncommon shape and claim of individually weighted keyswitches suggest that it was a custom version of a Key Tronic E03600.
Das Keyboard II, still with blank keys only, was the first to feature mechanical keyswitches (Cherry MX, blue stem), which increased the keyboard lifespan and improved tactile and audio feedback. It has been identified as a custom Cherry G80-3000 by case shape, PCB labels and production in the Czech Republic.
The third iteration in 2008 was the first to be offered in both Ultimate (unlabeled) and Professional (labeled) versions. This USB-only keyboard also offered six-key rollover capability (the maximum for a conventional USB HID keyboard), an internal two-port USB hub and came with a glossy surface. Both 104-key (ANSI) and 105-key layouts (ISO) were offered. This version was not without its problems, however, as it became known that key transposition errors could occur at high typing speeds. In addition, interoperability issues related to the USB hub were noticed with some systems.
The "Das Keyboard Model S" constitutes the latest addition to the lineup, as of late 2009. It contains revised electronics to address some of the common complaints along with supporting media keys and PS/2 operation. Again, it is shipped in both Ultimate (unlabeled) and Professional (labeled) versions, both 104- and 105-key, with the addition of a labeled Professional Silent model featuring non-clicky but tactile MX brown stem keyswitches. The latter is intended for applications demanding lower noise levels than obtained with the regular clicky MX blue stem switches while retaining a similar tactile characteristic. First samples showed improvements in areas where the previous model had problems.
The keyboard was designed by Daniel Guermeur, the founder of Metadot Corporation, an open source software company located in Austin, Texas, USA. Daniel Guermeur noticed that hunting and pecking was not very efficient for someone spending most of his days typing on a computer. He was looking for a radical solution which would prevent him from looking at the keys. Thus he had a Chinese factory make his first blank keyboard. After a few seconds of using it, the low-cost, rubber-membrane keyboard was giving atrocious tactile feedback so he decided that blank keys were not enough to type fast; the keyboard component quality was paramount as well. He then had another factory make the best quality keyboard they could deliver and added the blank keys. After few weeks of usage Daniel doubled his typing speed.
Friends and colleagues asked him many times where they could buy a blank keyboard like his, but this was a one-of-a-kind keyboard. After he noticed a wide interest in this blank typing device he decided to launch a new product line focusing exclusively on providing the best quality keyboard equipment available on the market. The first week after the launch of the first Das Keyboard, its website got several million hits and was mentioned numerous blogs and leading newspapers including Slashdot and the New York Times.
Promoting typing skills
Das Keyboard launched the first Ultimate Typing Championship in 2009 in order to promote typing as an important skill.
- "Das Keyboard Professional product page". Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- "Forum discussion: Details regarding serious key transposition issue with Das Keyboard III".
- "Daniel Guermeur reveals that the Das Keyboard III may transpose keystrokes".
- "Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate product page". Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- "Das Keyboard Model S Professional product page". Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- "Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent product page". Retrieved 2009-10-31.[dead link]
- Zipern, Andrew (2005-05-26). "A Keyboard That Lets the Supremely Confident Show Disdain for Qwerty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- Costar Electronics
- Official Das Keyboard homepage
- The Tech Report: Das Keyboard comparison to the IBM Model M
- Das Keyboard Professional review on Ars Technica
- Das Keyboard review on Maximum PC
- Coverage of Das Keyboard on Slashdot
- Details regarding serious key transposition issue with Das Keyboard III
- Gadget Guys review of Das Keyboard
- Daniel Guermeur reveals that the Das Keyboard III may transpose keystrokes
- Original New York Times article