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History Of Cherry Keyboard

Cherry keyboards are known for the precision engineering in their legendary switches, so it might be surprising to learn that Cherry had a humble beginning. Here’s the story of how Cherry keyboards grew from restaurant basements to the world leader in mechanical keyboards and switches.

1970s: The first Cherry keyboard switches
The first Cherry keyboard was introduced in 1973 and featured new switches that Cherry patented in the same year. The company primarily makes keyboards for other companies, rather than selling directly to consumers. Throughout the ’70s, Cherry continued to invest in keyboard switch technology, designing the M6, the predecessor to the famous Cherry MX series.

1980s: Revolutionary Cherry MX switches
Cherry revolutionized the keyboard industry in 1983 with the introduction of the Cherry MX, a well-designed switch that could withstand 20 million keystrokes. The original switches spawned a line of Cherry MX switches favored by modern gamers and productivity professionals for their unique combination of resistance, tactile and audible feedback. Identified by the color of its stem (red, black, blue, brown, and green) – some Cherry MX switches today are rated for over 100 million keystrokes.

In 1984, the company released the Cherry G80-0427 keyboard, one of the first keyboards to feature Cherry MX Black switches. These keyboards have two-tone ABS keycaps. Some keycaps are thick and some are thin, which may be a quality difference due to the fact that Cherry finished the board before receiving all the keycap molds.

During this time, Cherry began taking a direct-to-consumer approach to some of its keyboards, releasing the G80-1000 in 1987. Targeting the emerging desktop market, the G80-1000 features a Model M-style layout, n-key rollover, and premium cases. These qualities made this Cherry keyboard a staple in the computer market throughout the 90s and 2000s.

Cherry introduced the G80-3000 in 1988, an iconic full-size keyboard design that’s still in production today. The G80-3000 series endures for its intuitive, IBM-enhanced-inspired layout, two-tone ABS keycaps, and Cherry MX switches. Earlier models even had n-key rollover. The keyboard has gone through several iterations over the years, including a Windows key added in the mid-’90s and a 2017 variant, the MX Board Silent, which uses MX Red Silent and MX Black Silent switches to reduce noise.

1990s: The continued growth of the Cherry keyboard
In the ’90s, Cherry continued to make premium keyboards. G80-3000 keyboards produced from 1990 to 1992 had thick PBT keycaps with a sublimation legend. Many consider them the best keycaps Cherry has ever made, and they continue to hold their value on the secondary market.

Other Cherry keyboard highlights from the 90s include the G80-1800, which is still in production and has been released in several versions. One variant is a programmable keyboard called the G80-2100. Users can record macros to the battery-powered 2 KB internal storage drive.

In the mid-90s, Cherry catered to the ergonomic movement with the ErgoPlus, a unique split keyboard that only survived four years of production.
2000s and beyond: Cherry moves more into mechanical switches
Entry laid the foundation for revolutionary technologies for decades to come.

2000s and beyond: Cherry moves more into mechanical switches

Cherry G80-3930
The advent of esports and productivity software has increased demand for Cherry keyboards and Cherry MX switches, which are considered by many to be the gold standard of keyboard switches. Cherry MX switches are designed for performance, comfort and durability with:

Precision CAD housings with virtually no tolerances
Color bars with linear, haptic or click actuation types
Gold Cross Point Contact
Coil springs with various resistance levels
The Cherry MX series offers a variety of options, enabling users to choose the switch that suits their needs through a combination of actuation type, resistance, travel distance, and longevity. These features have made Cherry MX switches beloved by writers, gamers, programmers, and esports professionals, allowing Cherry to turn switches almost entirely. To date, Cherry has sold more than 6 billion switches worldwide.

At this point, the term “cherry keyboard” took on a whole new meaning, referring to any keyboard with cherry switches. The keyboard segment continues to grow, coinciding with the demand for custom, DIY keyboard makers and professionals who demand reliability, precision, and the right feel in a market where mainstream brands make cheaper, lower-quality keyboards.

Cherry’s emphasis on innovation is reflected in low-profile keyboards like the G80-3800 released in 2012 and flat-key gaming keyboards like the G80-3850 released in 2013. Cherry also makes keyless keyboards like the MX Board 1.0 TKL and the company designed RealKey technology for more reliable anti-ghosting on models like the G80-3930. In 2016, ZF Friedrichshafen AG sold the Cherry keyboard division to Hamburg-based investment firm GENUI Partners, and in 2020 US-based Argand Partners joined the company as a majority shareholder.

Of course, the real gem is Cherry’s MX switches, which is why manufacturers of high-performance mechanical keyboards incorporate them into their designs. Cherry MX switches provide gamers, coders and productivity professionals with the precise quality of Cherry MX switches with advanced features such as full NKRO, cloud capabilities, RGB lighting and programmable macros.

Today, Cherry continues to make keyboards, including niche models aimed at the healthcare and safety industries, but you don’t need to buy a Cherry-branded keyboard to enjoy the performance of the company’s industry-leading switches: you just buy a mechanical keyboard and have them.

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