back to article Soft press keys for locked-down devs: Three new models of old school 60-key Happy Hacking 'board out next month

Fujitsu has refreshed its line of iconic developer-oriented Happy Hacking mechanical keyboards. The three latest models — all including USB-C, with two using Bluetooth — are available to pre-order today, with units shipping from July 16 across Europe (including the UK). The first, dubbed Classic, is an update of the iconic …

  1. Mark Honman


    Friday afternoon question for fellow developer-commentards: What alternatives are there at a more affordable price level, say around £50?

    I'd be looking for a KB with cursor keys, though.

    FWIW I'm quite a "heavy" typist and therefore a big fan of old-school Thinkpad keyboards. My all-time favourite keyboard is the one on the HP2645 (yes, that dates me more than a little bit!)


    1. Sykowasp

      Re: Alternatives?

      You may want the "Lenovo ThinkPad Compact USB Keyboard with TrackPoint"

      There's a bluetooth version as well I believe.

    2. Whitter

      Re: Alternatives?

      You could try Redragon Gaming Mechanical Keyboard K552

      It's quite loud, so I put some o-rings on too to quieten things down a little. Still quite loud thogugh!

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives?

      I bought a Durgod Taurus K320 TKL with Cherry MX brown switches a month ago to replace a decade old Steelseries 7G with black switches and I'm loving it. However, it's twice your ideal price at £99.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Alternatives?

      If you go to your lots-of-items-selling site of choice, you can almost guarantee that you will find various budget mechanical keyboards around and even below your price range. I have experienced good results with some of these, but with each you will have some drawbacks. There are those who will not accept any switch type other than the well-known manufacturer they have used before, for example, and budget keyboards tend to use some manufacturer you've never heard of. I tend not to care, but if you do, the budget might not satisfy. Similarly, at that price range you are unlikely to find keyboards with extra features like Bluetooth, detachable cables, or extra ports. If one does contain such a feature, it's likely the only one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alternatives?

        I have a good collection of Sun keyboards that I've used for years, and really like. Plenty of them available on auction sites. Just beware that there are two US types, with Control & CapsLock swapped (and a few other keys moved), make sure you pick the type you prefer.

        1. ovation1357

          Re: Alternatives?

          I was scouring eBay the other day looking for a either a USB type 6 or 7 Sun keyboard with a UK layout and they were sadly few and far between :-(

          Absolutely fantastic keyboards! I really miss mine and although I've just bought a copy of gaming keyboards to try, I may yet go back for a Sun one if I can get it.

          P.S. Regarding the position of capslock and control I believe you can use the dip switches at the back of the keyboard too choose which way around they are.

    5. sorry, what?

      Re: Alternatives?

      I went for the TeckNet gaming "mechanical feeling" USB wired UK layout keyboard - the key backlights are ridiculous but the typing experience (I'm a dev) is good. At £22 you can buy plenty of these before you've spent the sort of money these keyboards cost... so even if the keys wear out, it'll be years before you regret it from a cost perspective.

      1. logicalextreme Silver badge

        Re: Alternatives?

        Yeah, I think £25–30 would probably be max what I'd spend on a keyboard. I don't even own a functioning computer except for a headless media box, so I'm only considering getting one in anticipation of working from home permanently (I've been doing fine with the laptop but I do miss having a numpad and a Break key). Most interesting-looking stuff in that price range seems to exist solely on Amazon though, which is a shame.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Alternatives?

          I suppose it depends what you do with a keyboard, but if you are a serious keyboard basher, be it for development work or writing documentation or even just writing your dissertation, you need something comfortable with well-arranged keys, even if you are not a fully-fledged touch typist.

          I did make some people scratch their heads when I admitted that I'd spent more money on the keyboard for my children's "homework" computer than I had on the computer itself. Admittedly it was a Raspberry Pi, but I knew there was a lot of typing to come and I have used some absolutely dreadful £10 keyboards.

          When I re-arrange the computing workstations and have a bit more desk space I'm very tempted to get a separate "letters only" keyboard and keypad. This one has rather caught my eye, and not just because of the lovely ladies on the web page :-)


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Alternatives?

            I must admit, that has all the keys you _really_ need.

            Wait a minute, binary would be simpler - just one key and an LED.

            1 -> press key when LED is lit

            0 -> don't press key

            1. shedied

              Re: Alternatives?

              That would be as good as my handy reminder before you rush out from the COVID-19 lockdown. The extra LED would be a status indicator for critical information:

              '0' - pants are off

              '1' - pants are on

              These would be much better than the breeze you feel in your nether region; by then it would be too late

          2. NullNix

            Re: Alternatives?

            Yeah. I will admit I don't understand people who say they do a lot of typing and then insist on buying a cheap keyboard. If you do a lot of typing the keyboard is critical equipment, and it's critical stuff that your hands hit a lot. That means it's also health-critical. Why would you *not* spend a reasonable sum on something like that? Why aim for the cheapest thing you possibly can? I am mystified.

            Also... if you buy a keyboard with good switches -- which means expense, I'm sorry -- you can expect it to not fail for decades. The Cherry keyswitches I'm using in the keyboard here did need replacement, but that was after *twenty years of continuous use*, and the thing about a keyboard that costs a lot is that if the vendor is still going after that long they'll probably be happy to replace the switches for you for less than the cost of a replacement keyboard.

            Cheaper keyboards wear out much faster, and are nastier to type on as well.

            1. NetBlackOps

              Re: Alternatives?

              My IBM PC/AT keyboard still rocks just fine as do my later versions of ye ole Selectric layout keyboards from them. Something something "cold dead fingers."

              1. ITS Retired

                Re: Alternatives?

                I have a Model M, IBM keyboard. That is the best keyboard I have ever had or used.

                I've worn the legends off two other keyboards and spilled water in another. Most of the keyboards I have used, just haven't felt right. Squishy keys, can't tell when then make contact, too soft, wrong key spacing, whatever.

                Noise? Who cares, I'm half deaf anyway and like to know when I press a key. IBM made good keyboards.

            2. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Alternatives?

              How pleasant a keyboard is to type on depends on the shape of your hands (and wrists, elbows, arms etc.), so it's really subjective.

              I've got a very nice mechanical one at home, but I've found no change in my typing from the cheap one I use at work, and I could afford another ten or so as replacements for the cost of my mechanical one. (I do draw the line at the ones with 'laptop' style keys though, I need the full length travel).

              I'd always suggest that someone tries as many different types of keyboard as possible, because what works for one person won't work for another.

    6. hob_bes

      Re: Alternatives?

      Look at the various offerings from KeyChron. They make very good mechanical keyboards for under $100 USD.

    7. Dr_N

      Re: Alternatives?

      Try browsing for Perixx PERIBOARD. Bought a US 106 key USB one from Amazon in 2016 and it's still clacking like a proper keyboard should. It cost £13.99

    8. Duffy Moon

      Re: Alternatives?

      I have a nice Das keyboard, which I bought used from the 'bay. It was as good as new really. I can't remember what I paid for it, but I'm poor so it wouldn't have been much.

    9. Moonrunner

      Re: Alternatives?

      You could go for a Unicomp. Old-school IBM-style keyboards. Great ergonomics and your typing will be heard by the entire neighbourhood. Their international shipping can get pretty expensive. Periodically they get good deals on international shipping (I think in November) and they appear on Drop, from time to time.

  2. HellDeskJockey

    For the benefit of the younger crowd he is talking about the HP2645 Display Station not the printer,.

    OP I was using a TI Silent 700 back then.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "aggressively emphasises ergonomics by reducing wrist movement to as little as possible"

    So, pr0n sites are by definition unergonomic? I thought that was only by the ones involving chains and leather and stuff.

    It's a good thing I learned that just before the weekend.


  4. Kristian Walsh

    I used to use L,H,J,K lad, and I were lucky to even have that!

    No cursor keys? That's certainly a... bold move for a "developer" keyboard.

    1. Jason Hindle

      Re: I used to use L,H,J,K lad, and I were lucky to even have that!

      Saw the sketch you allude to for the first time in donkeys’ years, today. Pissed myself laughing.

    2. Lomax

      Re: I used to use L,H,J,K lad, and I were lucky to even have that!

      > bold move for a "developer" keyboard

      No function keys either! What digital contortion is required to Ctrl+Alt+F1-8? Alt+F4? F5 to refresh? F11 for full screen? F12 for debug console? No dedicated Home, End, Ins, Del, PgUp, PgDn. Space-bar the size of a shift key. What are you supposed to be programming with this, a VHS recorder? It's like paying more for less. A lot more!

  5. BigOrangeHelpdesk

    Only zealios are better

    I have a HHKB Pro 2 (Blank caps) as my daily driver. It’s a real nice typer.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These last forever

    I bought one when they first came out, and it's been used daily ever since - it came with cables that allowed it to be used with Sun SBUS, ADB, or PS/2. Used it on my Sparcstation 5, then Ultra 10, then SGI Octane, and it's now plugged in to my Thinkpad via a USB adapter.

    Over £200 for a keyboard might seem outrageous, but these are perfect if you have RSI, and will last forever.

  7. logicalextreme Silver badge

    Is "BS" a Backspace key

    or does it invoke a customisable macro that inserts a random snarky code/pull request comment?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Is "BS" a Backspace key

      I would buy that. Oh so much.

  8. Peter Prof Fox

    Hack your cheap keyboard for calm continuity

    My scheme is to use a £10-ish keyboard that 'fits me'. In my case proper key-press travel and enough tactile feedback. If it's not for you then try again.

    Then hack (That's what hackers do, right?):-

    * Replace the rear brackets to give the slope and non-collapsability I want. I use carved hard foam.

    * Put felt pads along the front to stop the plastic case thumping the desk on every stroke

    * For wireless, add larger batteries and an on/off switch.

    When that's sorted, buy an identical model and put it in store so that after a million words, or too many cat-related events, I've got a painless transition.

  9. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    How is a straight row of keys ergonomic? You want something that bends round at least. Certainly with the price in the £200s. Pointing your fingers straight forwards all day does damage wrists. A cunning design swerves or even splits the keyboard so that each hand can approach the keys on its side from a natural angle. At least.

  10. revilo

    solid keyboards where typing still ment commitment

    I had happy hacking for more than a decade. For all machines, had probably

    a dozen overall. Very robust. Would wash them and rinse them out every year or so.

    Now, where apple has taken up half of my machines and especially laptops, I have now

    all keyboards magic keyboards, also in linux, remapped caps lock

    to escape (very handy on the macbook pros where an idiotic decision made escape a

    non-key. On the magic keyboard, one could set escape behavior with dip switches.

    I like the small apple magic keyboards, but nothing beats the robustness of the

    happy hacking keyboards.It was even 2 decades ago already a bit of nostalgia and typing

    gave your fingers a workout. Pushing down a key meant commitment!

  11. davidp231

    Model M

    A USB IBM Model M keyboard would rock.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Model M

      Unicomp make new Model M keyboards with USB connectors.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Model M

        Don't tell anyone, but I've recently seen original IBM model M keyboards attached to so-called "dumb terminals" going for under $10. That's unused, and in the original box & wrapping. Lightly used versions are in the $5 range. Seems nobody thinks such terminals are worth anything these days ... You might have to adapt the cable to the more modern USB on your system, but that's hardly beyond the capability of anyone reading ElReg.

        And with all due respect to the late Mr. Jobs, the Universal Serial Bus is, after all, a serial bus ... so no, serial ports are not dead in today's world.

        If you get two, and use Linux, you can send a nice friendly login prompt to one of 'em for those rare occasions when your GUI goes TITSUP[0], but the OS is otherwise in a sane state. No need for a reboot when you can fix it from the command line. It's also a handy place to send stderr occasionally. Or to send a quick email. Or ... I use mine many times per day.

        [0] Total Inability To Show the Usual Pr0n^H^H^Hictures.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: Model M

          Soarer's converter. You can get a version that works with the RJ45 plug on a terminal keyboard.

  12. Steve Graham

    I have a DEC LK250 in the cupboard. Basically it's like the LK201, except with PS/2 connectivity. When I didn't have any computers with PS/2 ports any more, I bought a USB converter, but it never worked properly. Possibly the antique beast required too much current.

    That's certainly the case with my current clacky keboard, a budget ADX gaming one. I've had to use a powered hub for it (there's a LED for every key). But as well as decent keyswitches, the key legends are moulded in, not painted on. I hate it when they wear off.

    1. jake Silver badge

      My LK201 is attached to the Rainbow in the corner, which is attached to the small cluster of vaxen down in the machineroom/museum/mausoleum/morgue via thicknet. Nice keybr0ad, but I prefer the Model M.

  13. Keythong

    Ridiculously overpriced

    I paid relative premium for a USB Cherry MX Board 1.0 (Illuminated) * after getting p'd off at 'dead' membrane keyboards, and scissor keyboard fails, including frankly overpriced Logitech junk. * This Cherry model is one of the cheapest Cherry MX Switch keyboards, and already had firmware updates to tweak the illumination.

  14. PBZ

    NIZ make keyboards with similar switches to the Topre ones, and at a much more reasonable price. They also make some in tenkey-less and full sized.

  15. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    At that price....

    You could buy a real IBM Model M in UK layout! UK ones make Hen's teeth look common, however, so be prepared to wait.

    Failing that, get a Unicomp. Around £100, and nearly as good.

    <smug>I have 2 UK Ms</smug>

  16. Nick

    From keyboard noob to Cherry-TKL-basher in under a week

    Upgraded from my Dell's laptop to a brand new Max Blackbird Tenkeyless Backlit Mechanical Keyboard.

    What a treat, and thanks for the steer to all who contributed on this thread!

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