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Cherry’s new mechanical switch hails from ’80s terminal keyboards

Nicknamed Nixies, they’re like MX Blacks, but stiffer and, purportedly, smoother.

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Cherry, the original mechanical switch maker, is continuing to tap the mechanical keyboard community for new product ideas. Its new mechanical switch, the Cherry MX Black Clear-Top, is a nod to enthusiasts who would love to turn in their modern-day clacker for an old-school terminal keyboard with extra-smooth typing.

’80s roots

Before Cherry’s Thursday announcement of plans to release the MX Black Clear-Top, the switch was known to hobbyists as the Nixie switch. Cherry made the switch in the 1980s for German office machine-maker Nixdorf Computer AG. The German switch maker was tasked with creating a version of its linear MX Black switch with “milky” upper housing, a 63.5 g actuation force rather than 60 g, and “the relatively rare solution at the time of having a diode integrated into the switch for n-key rollover,” Cherry’s announcement explained.

The linear switch ended up being used primarily in Nixdorf’s CT06-CT07/2 M Softkeys keyboards targeted at terminals, servers, and minicomputers.

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