Unveiling the Past in a Modern Click: The 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard M Edition

Mechanical keyboards are an interesting niche but one with a strong following. 8BitDO have announced a product that pays homage to the precursor of the mechanical keyboards, the first IBM Model M keyboard. Based on mixing nostalgia with modern technology, 8BitDO have produced yet another product where the past meets the present in an interesting way. Let us take a closer look at what 8BitDO have done.

The Genesis of a Classic Design Recrafted

The 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard M Edition appears, at first glance, to be a perfectly ordinary mechanical keyboard. It isn’t? It’s more like a time capsule with keys. Paying homage to the legendary IBM Model M, the 8BitDo M recalls a time when typing felt more like interactive discourse than work. Its colour palette, stubby dimensions, and carefully crafted typeface tell the tale of a bygone era by the chime of its switches.

A Contemporary Twist on IBM's Legacy

This aesthetic gives us homage without infringement, an in-between zone that 8BitDo has mastered in other, smaller retro designs. It invites the user to make a connection with the original but reap the benefits of modern hardware.

CONNECT with Comfort and Style

It’s not just about the aesthetics. It’s about the feel of the M Edition, the experience that comes with engaging with it as a user. The typing is different because there are no buckling spring switches on this keyboard, unlike its vintage predecessors. Instead, it’s a clicky, tactile experience, brought about by the as-yet unavailable Kailh Box White V2 mechanical switches. This ensures that every keystroke on this keyboard is a retrograde continuity, in it being both a throwback and an entry-point into the future of keyboarding.

Versatility in CONNECTivity

Featuring USB-A connectivity, a USB-A 2.4 GHz wireless dongle, or Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, it’s the USB keyboard I buy for the person who might not know what to buy for themselves. 8BitDo will continue to make products that catalogue the history of gaming – but it also gives us a great way to connect, as we go forward.

Reimagining the Retro Aesthetic

Although purists might miss the precise tactile feedback of those buckling springs, the M Edition invites you to take in the customary and cutting edge all at once. It’s about getting the right kind of nostalgia and Gestalt on your desktop.

Expanding Options: The Detachable Numpad

In some recognition of the way that users might want to make use of the controller over time, 8BitDo has added a detachable numpad as an accessory (sold separately) to the M Edition. It connects in a variety of ways, and can be configured to suit your setup.

Nostalgia Meets Modern Needs

The keycaps are ABS plastic, not the more robust PBT, and the design is sans the numeric keypad, or ‘tenkeyless’ in keyboard speak. The selection of the plastic seems in-tune with current tastes and desktop real-estate horror. For historians of keyboards, though, I’m still left with the unanswered calling of hunting for an original Model M at thrift stores so I can restore it.

Embracing the Legacy

So, for me, someone who carries a great fondness for the feel of the IBM Model M, companies such as Unicomp, which still produces keyboards with the original design intact, keep the Model M’s spirit alive. 8BitDo’s M Edition carves out its own space, forming a path between past and present.

A Loving Tribute or a Fresh Start?

At the end of the day, the 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard M Edition ranks less as a tribute to its inspiration than as an ode to a different era – one that recognises, via the ergonomics of typing or the resonance of nostalgia, the value of those tangible connections.

The Essence of Connection

Every keystroke and every design decision in 8BitDo’s M Edition is an attempt at connection: between past and present, tradition and innovation, form and function. It is a testament to how timeless the mechanical keyboard remains, and to how much there is left in old practices to discover by looking forward.

May 30, 2024
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