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CODE mechanical keyboard aims to push all the right buttons


January 28, 2014

The CODE keyboard comes in both an 87 and 104-Key version

The CODE keyboard comes in both an 87 and 104-Key version

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Despite the advent of touch screens, speech recognition and eye-tracking, the keyboard still reigns supreme as the input device of choice for many of us. Somebody who places a lot of value on this intermediary is programmer and prominent blogger Jeff Atwood who, disillusioned with the range of mechanical keyboards on the market, set to work in producing the CODE Keyboard.

In conceiving and developing the device, Atwood sought the help of a like-minded keyboard enthusiast, Weyman Kwong of WASD Keyboards.

"I told him that the state of keyboards was unacceptable to me as a geek," Atwood writes on his blog. "I proposed a partnership wherein I was willing to work with him to do whatever it takes to produce a truly great mechanical keyboard."

With both 87 and 104-Key versions available, the CODE keyboard uses either Cherry MX Clear or Cherry MX Green mechanical switches, the latter fitted with sound-softening O-rings.

Supported by a steel backplate, the keyboard features white LED backlighting which can be adjusted to seven different levels of brightness or disabled completely, with an onboard memory for storing user preferences.

The keyboard can be configured to different layouts such as QWERTY or Dvorak, and the keys to different functions such as Alt (PC) or Command (Mac), via a row of DIP (Dual In-line Package) switches on the back, with a dual layer PCB (Printed Circuit Board) on the inside.

There's plenty of scope for those time-saving keyboard shortcuts with a 6-Key USB Rollover, which means that up to six keys can be pressed at once (not including Ctrl, Alt, and Shift, bringing the number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously up to nine).

The keyboard hosts its media keys on the navigation cluster, meaning Page Up will turn up the volume, for example. Users are alerted to an active Caps, Num or Scroll lock through 1 mm LED indicator lights, while a wire keycap puller comes included for removing, cleaning and modifying the keys.

Windows, Linux and Mac compatible, the keyboard sports rubber pads and rubber flip out feet on the back to stop it slipping around the desk.

The 87-Key version weighs in at 907 g (2 lb), measures 363 x 142 x 39 mm (14.3 x 5.6 x 1.2 in) and is priced at US$145 (with MX Clear switches) or $165 (with MX Green switches with O-rings).

The 104-Key Code Keyboard weighs 1098 g (2.42 lb) and measures 445 x 142 x 30 mm (17.5 x 5.6 x 1.2 in). With MX Clear switches, it is priced at $150, while the MX Green with O-rings will cost users $170.

Product page: Code Keyboards

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

Someone need to clarify what truly great means. This keyboard uses off the shelf keys with classic ( I mean non ergonomic ) template, and in this age it's configurable by unmarked DIP switches on the back. There is no provision to easily unlock all they key to wash them. Except the fact that you can press 9 keys a time ( still short of the regularly available 10 fingers ) I have some problems figuring out what's the buzz with this keyboard.


Looking at their website it appears they only do a US layout keyboard, is there any news that they will produce a UK version??


$145/$170 Seriously? I'll stick with a $10, git-er-done version or a $35 natural keyboard!


Is there a mathematician out there? You can program functions with up to 6 keys pressed simultaneously, I.e. 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6, minus ctrl, alt & del. What is the total number of programmed functions available on the 87 and 104 key versions, respectively?


Jeff Atwood probably missed this entry in his search: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FB4BUI6

@MintHenryJ That's a very difficult question. It's not just figuring out all the combinations of keys (n!/(r!(n-r)!), but rather all of the combinations of keys that are pressable by an individual. Someone with smaller hands might have a completely different set of pressable keys as someone with large hands.


I recently had the displeasure of using a PC keyboard in a library and was shocked at the design. Why? Because for the past 8 years I've been using Apple laptop (and bluetooth) keyboards where the keys are only raised about 2mm. No more issues with hand or wrist pains. The keys are responsive, quiet but not too quiet and my accuracy is high. The CODE keyboard by contrasts looks like a dinosaur from a pre-ergonomic era.


Being rather a dinosaur myself from the pre-pre-ergonomic era it looks absolutely great to me but the price does put me off.


This keyboard looks OK, but not absolutely great to me. Going back to a wired keyboard would have to knock my socks off. Like others have stated, the exceptional part of this keyboard is the price, which is exceptionally high. I'll wait until tigerdirect is selling them out on the discount rack and probably still not buy one because it's not wireless.

Royce Edwards

Must for all PCs & Apple IMacs etc too Nice, Id like one for my next Apple IMac.

Stephen Russell

I do too much typing to go back to a non-ergonomic keyboard on my own desktop machine. It feels a little strange and definitely less comfortable and a little slower whenever I go to work and have to use a regular keyboard that's not split, angled and tilted. I like my Microsoft Natural Pro keyboard so much that I stocked up on some spares at $30 a pop when MS stopped producing them. The only MS product I really like, with snappy but relatively quiet key action that's much better than the dome keyboards. And the first one is still going strong after almost ten years of use.

But aside from the straight layout, an expensive keyboard like this and they don't take any precautions to make it spill resistant? I've never spilled on a keyboard, but many have, so why can't they add a simple plastic shield under the keys to divert liquid and even dust?


I will give this some consideration but to me, the best keyboard remains the IBM click keyboard. As a touch-typist, the junk available today is tiring and error-prone. There is a company (forgotten the name) that offers a variety of new and refurbished IBM keyboards for under $100. I have a couple of these and wouldn't trade them for anything. If you type as much documentation as I do, you really appreciate a quality keyboard.

Charles Gage

They SOLD OUT in one day! I can't wait for the next shipment to arrive next month... these keyboards are impossible to get and we've been waiting since August for this round of them!

If you've never used a mechanical keyboard, you're missing out... they offer the satisfaction of popping bubble wrap with every single keystroke.

computer scientist
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