Keyboards today almost all look the same. Square keys, a flat base with rounded corners, usually all in some shade of gray, black, or tan. They typically lack character, and those that do have some "design" to them are over-the-top gaming keyboards with lights and dials and just too much. Then there's the Azio Retro mechanical keyboard (opens in new tab), inspired by the classic designs of vintage typewriters. It's still a modern keyboard underneath all those round keycaps and metal accents, just with some flair.
Even today it's easy to spot some features of the modern keyboard that are based on the old typewriter design, including key placement. Have you ever wondered why the keys on your PC keyboard aren't in line? Why have the G and B keys moved to the side from the T key? The reason is down to metal linkages used by old typewriters used to register key entry — they needed space inside for the linkages and arms to move,
Hitting a key would pull down the linkage and work the necessary mechanism to input said character onto the sheet of paper — so long as you had enough ribbon. The layout of the standard QWERTY keyboard hasn't changed much since those days, even though there are objectively more efficient layouts. But we have lost that classic style — what you might call vintage or steampunk today. Azio's brought this look back with its Retro mechanical keyboard.
The chrome-plated body and keycaps with the similar circular style that was found on old typewriters set it apart from keyboards available today. Modern features are included with full N-key rollover (NKRO), water and dust resistance, and backlighting on select models (opens in new tab). It's not stated what switches are used, though I'd hazard an assumption they're not from Cherry.
Should you require a new keyboard and miss the old days of typing, you may want to give the Azio Retro a looking for a shot of nostalgia. Prices start from around $109.
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Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
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