Serious keyboard geeking ahead - and why not, the keyboard is one of the most important interfaces/inputs to your computer. So best get it right and ramp up the enjoyment level.
When I first started using computers most of the keyboards I used were IBM Model "M" or similar and they were a joy to type on - more like a typewriter than a keyboard, especially the IBM Model "M". I've lusted after one ever since I stopped using one, never dreaming that they not only survive for decades but positively flourish with age. They were that well built.
Over the last 20 or so years, keyboards supplied with computers became commodity items produced as cheaply as possible. As a result, except for a few standout examples, they are horrible to type on, with spongy rubber and a keypress that feels like you are poking dead flesh. But hey! They are cheap and apparently people don't care if they've never had another keyboard to compare it to. Age does have benefits, even in IT!
So I used to supply my own keyboards, from Das Keyboard which has regular clicky MX blue stem switches (ie tactile), through various Topre keyboards such as the 87U.
The keyboards I was using were becoming smaller too, the Topre 87U is what is known as a 'Tenkeyless' keyboard, missing the numbers on the right hand side. The Topre keyboard uses electrostatic capacitive non-contact type keys which give a similar feedback to the Das Keyboard and the all mechanical IBM Model "M". Best described as a 'thwock'when the key is pressed.
I finally (at least, over the last two years) settled on the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2 (henceforth abbreviated to HHKB Pro 2). The site is in Japanese unfortunately and I had to get mine from Japan. Here is a review which outlines its strengths and weaknesses. Don't whatever you do go for the HHKB 'Lite' models even though they have cursor keys and are about 30% of the cost of the 'Pro'. 'Lite' rhymes with 'shite', appropriately in this case. The 'Lite' models are inferior in every way except for the cute size. The HHKB Pro 2 keyboard is really small, for instance sacrificing cursor keys for chorded function+key combinations and no function key row. It uses Topre keys, so there is still that satisfying 'thwock' of the keypress. After some time the numerous chorded key combinations became a bit tiresome (eg shift+control+function key = five fingers/two hands to execute) and nobody else could use the keyboard (not such a bad thing...). My eyesight isn't getting any better and the black on charcoal keycap lettering, though undeniably cool and LEET is challenging as I don't touch type (and am unlikely to learn on that keyboard). Luckily I have a good muscle memory for where keys should be. I'm also a bit concerned with RSI risks with chorded key presses.
Finally though, satori! I came across ClickyKeyboards. Nirvana... and purchased a reconditioned IBM Model "M" 1391401 keyboard made in 1992 and I'm in 7th heaven! Here is a picture of the IBM and the HHKB Pro 2 side by side.
The only drawback is that I had to import 2.5kg of used keyboard from New Jersey, USA to London and got busted for customs charges.
After using the HHKB Pro 2 for a couple of years the IBM Model "M" seems huge comparatively (it is a big keyboard anyway). Luckily I have a big desk!
One thing that worried me before it arrived, and I couldn't find this from searching the net was whether my KVM switch* would recognise the PS/2->USB adapter (the IBM Model "M" is too old to have the now standard USB connector, it is strictly ps/2 only). In future anybody looking for the answer will hopefully find it here. My KVM switch is an ATEN Cubiq 1642 and there is no problem attaching the adapter. I have it on a short USB extension so it doesn't overhang the socket (it is quite large). It doesn't appear to have a manufacturer but this is how it appears on Amazon UK.
*For those that don't know, a KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) switch allows the keyboard, video & mouse to be shared between two or more computers without needing to have a keyboard, video & mouse for each. Really neat if that is your situation, mine also does sound and shared USB resources.
My IBM Model "M" is 23 years old and looks and feels new. The 'buckling spring' mechanical action is as good as new and sounds like it. God knows what an office full of these sounded like - probably a step up in quietness from an office full of typewriters though). Part of the attraction is the age. Where else in IT is a 23 year old product so sought after. Definitely not the computer it originally accompanied (probably the IBM PS/2). I shudder at the thought of using one of those again... And they were about $9,000 new!
My only gripe is the placement of the control key. Like most PC keyboards it is tucked away bottom left. I prefer it (and I'm used to it) swapped to where the caps-lock key is, next to the 'A' key (too much editing with Vi). I can remap it easily enough but on two operating systems with the LED lighting up everytime I press the control key, I think I'll have to live with it. Small gripe and I'm easily re-trainable lol.
RANTMODE One thing that makes up for the misplaced control key is the lack of those fucking ubiquitous 'Windows' keys. Like everybody uses Windows right? At least the Das Keyboard had little Tux (penguin) keycaps that replaced the shitty Windows logo./RANTMODE
Yes, a complete LACK of Windows keys. Hooray for keyboards that predate Windows (ambiguous use of 'predate' there...).
Oh yes, the weight! These keyboards were built, at 2.2kg or 5lbs US. Heavy enough to kill or at least knock somebody out (see X-Files series 1, episode 23 'Roland' for tips on the use of this keyboard as a weapon - which I coincidentally watched last week!)