Alan Freedman -- The Computer Language Company - Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Computer Desktop Encyclopedia
Longest-Running Tech Reference on the Planet

A CDE Definition

You'll love The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (CDE) for Tech Term of the Day (TTOD)

LOOK UP ANOTHER TERM


optical keyboard

A mechanical keyboard that uses infrared light and photoelectric switches to detect a key press. Keyboards with optical switches have a quicker reaction time than metal switches and have a longer life because there is no metal contact. They also eliminate the debouncing required to ensure only one signal is generated when the key is depressed. In addition, each key switch is easily removed for cleaning or replacement. For gamers, some optical switches can provide analog signaling that can be picked up in gaming software as a signal from 0 to 100% based on how far or how fast the key is pressed. See mechanical keyboard.



mechanical keyboard

A physical keyboard that uses an individual spring and switch for each key. Today, only premium keyboards are built with key switches; however, they were also used in the past, such as in the Model M keyboard from IBM, which used buckling spring switches. Mechanical keyboards are very much appreciated by fast typists because they have a springiness and feel that is not the same as the low-cost membrane keyboard accompanying most computers.

Types of Mechanical Switches
CHERRY key switches are commonly used today, while Alps and other types were used in the past. Buckling spring key switches cause the spring to buckle outwards rather than compress downwards, providing a unique tactile feedback. See premium keyboard and membrane keyboard.




Das Keyboard Uses CHERRY Switches
Das Keyboards use CHERRY MX Blue or Brown mechanical key switches like these. The Blue switches have a "clicky" sound when the key is sufficiently depressed, while the Brown have a soft tactile bump. (Image courtesy of Das Keyboard, www.daskeyboard.com)






Buckling Spring Keyboard
Unicomp's keyboards use buckling spring key switches, popularized on IBM PC keyboards. Although the keys have a clicky sound, they also have a unique tactile feel that made IBM keyboards stand out.






Avant Stellar Keyboard
One of the finest keyboards ever made and lamentably discontinued, Avant Stellars were entirely programmable. They used Alps mechanical key switches.






Personal Use Only

Before/After Your Search Term
BeforeAfter
optical diskoptical library
optical disk libraryoptical media
optical driveoptical mouse
optical fiberoptical network terminal
optical fibreoptical networking
optical Gigabit Ethernetoptical reader
optical image stabilizationoptical recognition
optical isolatoroptical resolution
optical jackoptical scanner
optical jukeboxoptical storage

Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.
Computer Words You Gotta KnowSystem design
Job categoriesUnix/Linux
Interesting stuffPersonal computers
InternetIndustrial Automation/Process Control
Communications & networkingAssociations/Standards organizations
HistoryDesktop publishing
Audio/VideoGraphics
MainframesSecurity
ProgrammingHealthcare IT
System design