Monday, December 5, 2022

Cherry is relaunching its cult classic “Nixie” keyboard switch

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Recap: Cherry has unveiled a new version of a keyboard switch that was produced for a limited time in the 80s and has since developed a cult following. In the 1980s, a German company named Nixdorf Computer AG commissioned a special version of the classic MX Black keyboard switch for use in some of its products. Nixdorf insisted that its semi-custom switch have an actuating force of 63.4 centinewtons instead of the standard 60 centinewtons and an integrated diode for n-key rollover.

The firm also wanted the switch to have a milky white upper housing.

The switch, which was mainly used in Nixdorf CT06-CT07/2 M Softkeys keyboards attached to servers or terminals, found a following among enthusiasts for its smooth, linear feel and acoustics. The “Nixie,” as they came to be known, were only produced for a few years and are quite rare these days.

Cherry is “relaunching” the switch under a different product name that highlights its “enhancements.” The new MX Black Clear-Top features the familiar milky top housing and black bottom section as well as a black stem. The actuation force is the same as before at 63.5 centinewtons with 2mm of pre-travel and a total travel of 4mm. The gold-colored stainless-steel spring utilizes the same vintage design as the original, we are told.

Cherry is offering the new switches either with or without lubricant pre-installed. Non-lubed versions give enthusiasts the freedom to install their own to their liking. They are being manufactured exclusively at the company’s German factory in Auerbach and are guaranteed for over 50 million actuations with a bounce time of typically less than one millisecond.

Cherry MX Black Clear-Top switches will be offered from official distributors worldwide starting in the beginning of 2023. Unfortunately, Cherry did not provide a more specific launch date aside from this very general window nor do we know how much they plan to charge. A 2020 review of the Nixie switches from ThereminGoat mentions the vintage switches sell for around $7 each.



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