The mechanical keyboards at Computex prove Steve Jobs was wrong about the PC

You’re almost guaranteed to experience déjà vu while wandering the halls of Computex. Enter, and a row of mechanical keyboards will greet you. Browse to the next hall – and you’ll see more. Turning a corner, yet more appear. At times, two or three booths sit side-by-side, keyboards glistening under harsh showfloor lamps.

The seemingly endless line-up of keyboards is amusing, but it’s no joke. The companies behind these keyboards are seeing serious success. And that success says a lot about the PC’s continued relevance.

The mechanical key’s return to fame

In June of 2010, Steve Jobs famously predicted the rise of a “post-PC” era during an interview at D8. He believed the magic of touch would drive an exodus away from bulky, complex computers. In his opinion, the PC would soon be replaced by more intuitive devices, like tablets.

But something else happened in 2010, something directly opposed to Jobs’ thinking. The mechanical keyboard market caught fire.

Today, a high schooler can put out more text in an hour than a 12th-century monk could in a year.

Once the only type of keyboard available, mechanical keyboards were driven virtually extinct by rubber dome keyboards through the late 90s. Even diehard geeks moved on, won over by the budget pricing rubber domes allowed.

It’s hard to definitely call any moment the point of ignition, but I personally view it as Razer’s introduction of the Blackwidow X. Designed for gamers, and marketed by a well-known brand, the Blackwidow reminded geeks that a keyboard can be awesome.

Keyboard sales have skyrocketed ever since. Demand has become so high, in fact, that Cherry – a mechanical key manufacturer whose hardware can be found in most top models – can’t keep up. I ran into  Michael Schmid, the company’s head of PR, on the show floor. He told me the company has a “supply problem.” The mechanical keyboard’s comeback caught the company as unaware as it did everyone else, and Cherry can’t fulfill demand.

Keyboard magic

Jobs’ belief in the post-PC era continues to hold sway to this day, and it’s true that the volume of PCs sold has gone down in recent years. Yet it’s also undeniable that mechanical keyboards are a hit. Geeks can’t get enough of them despite pricing that often reaches well above $100. How can these trends co-exist?

They can’t.

While brilliant, Jobs had something in common with all smart people. He made mistakes. And as I roamed the halls of Computex, viewing keyboard after keyboard after keyboard, it was clear that his belief in the post-PC era was one of them.

Mechanical keyboards computex
Matt Smith/Digital Trends
Matt Smith/Digital Trends

I could talk about market forces, the success of high-end PC hardware despite the general downturn, and the cultivation of niche products in an ever-growing universe of tech. These avenues could lead to some convincing conclusions, to the PC’s favor.

But I think Jobs’ mistake was more fundamental. Enthralled by his own love of touch, he failed to remember that some people – a lot of people – love to sit down at a PC and mash keys.

The humble keyboard remains the quickest and most efficient way to communicate quickly with a computer. Once you’ve learned to use it, you can navigate, access, or input data more quickly than with any tool ever crafted in the history of mankind. A high schooler can use it to put out more text in an hour than a 12th-century monk could manage in a year.

That’s the magic of a good keyboard. That’s why the halls of Computex are filled with keyboards. And that’s why Jobs was wrong to think the PC is going anywhere, anytime soon.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

Razer just made our favorite gaming laptop even more powerful than before

The Razer Blade, our favorite gaming laptop, is now more powerful than ever before. That’s thanks to the new Nvidia RTX graphics cards inside. Do they help Razer retain its edge over the competition?

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.

Here are the best Chromebook deals available in February 2019

Whether you want a compact laptop to enjoy some entertainment on the go, or you need a no-nonsense machine for school or work, we've smoked out the best cheap Chromebook deals -- from full-sized laptops to 2-in-1 convertibles -- that won't…

With no plans for merging operating systems, Apple opts to combine apps instead

Apple is working on combining all of the the apps it offers to iPhone, iPad, and Mac users by 2021. App developers will soon be able to build and submit one version of their apps to be used by Apple product users.

RTX might be expensive, but the 16 series could have the best Nvidia Turing GPUs

Set to debut at a step below the RTX 2060 on the price and performance spectrums, the GTX 1660 Ti and its other 16-series brethren could be Nvidia's killer mid-range cards of 2019 — especially with Tensor Core-powered DLSS.

Ryzen 3000 chips will be powerful, and they might be launched as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far, based on both leaks and the recent…

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.

Amazon takes $200 off Apple’s latest 13-inch MacBook Air with retina display

Amazon is taking $200 off Apple's latest MacBook Air. This MacBook Air has 13-inch retina display, a built-in FaceTime HD camera, and that classic lightweight wedge shape the Air is loved and known for.

Samsung drops a solid $100 discount on the Chromebook Pro

If you're in the market for a new laptop, but can't afford to drop $1,000 on one of the best models out there, Chromebooks are an excellent option. Right now, Samsung is offering $100 off the Samsung Chromebook Pro.

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.

Between Intel and AMD, these are the best gaming CPUs at every price

What are the best processors for gaming you can buy? You don't need to spend a fortune to get an amazing gaming CPU and now that AMD is competitive again, there are more choices than ever.