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Shift Happens

Marcin Wichary's upcoming book on typewriters and keyboards, Shift Happens, has a dedicated site now.

KBD.news
Published January 3, 2023
Creators! Feel free to tip me off about your keyboard related projects to bring them to 100K readers.

Avid readers know full well that I don't really feature kickstarters, not to mention teasers of upcoming kickstarters, but I'm pretty sure you'll agree with me to make an exception this time after you've learned about Marcin Wichary's book in the making: Shift Happens.

Shift Happens is an impressive three-volume (2+1) bundle on typewriters, keyboards, and their 150-year evolution – the exact topics which make my heart beat faster.

Shift Happens tells the story of keyboards like no book ever before, covering 150 years from the early typewriters to the pixellated keyboards in our pockets – Marcin Wichary.

Marcin, design manager at Figma and also an excellent storyteller, has been working on this project since 2016, when he stumbled upon a typewriter museum in Spain. That's a pretty long time you may say, but learning about the meticulous research process (updates in his newsletter) and e.g. the way old photos were carefully restored or new ones fixed prove these years of work were well spent.

Specs

  • 2+1 volumes
  • 1,200 pages
  • 42 chapters
  • 1,300 photographs, 520 taken exclusively for this book
  • 37 Easter Eggs

Highlights

I reached out to Marcin to ask for some highlights he finds important for the quite freakish audience of kbd.news, so here is a list in his own words:

  • I interviewed quite a few community members like Jesse Vincent, Jacob Alexander, Thomas Ran, and a few of them and their projects are in the book
  • there are stories of early adopters of typewriters and home computers that you might find relatable
  • there are quite a few chapters about the keyboard community, key switches, layouts, key caps, etc.
  • also one whole chapter about ergo keyboards, and one whole chapter about chorded/assistive keyboards (both with gorgeous photos)
  • the stories of earlier makers like Dvorak or Blickensderfer might be interesting to people who are makers
  • there will be a lot of great photos of rare keyboards that themselves might be inspiring in projects
  • I’d like to believe that the ethos of the book itself is compatible. I contributed a lot of scans to the Internet Archive, plan to release all the photos under a permissive license in the future. (more info here, here and here)
  • I also myself built at least one strange keyboard

Pic:

By the way, the archive of Marcin's posts is a warehouse of great keyboard content even without being featured in a printed book. In the recent years I've come across his articles and tweets regularly when doing my own research, e.g. referenced a twitter thread (Berthold Diatronic) just a couple of days ago.

Resources

Kickstarter in February. Shipping expected in late summer/fall of 2023.

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Published on Tue 3rd Jan 2023. Featured in KBD #110.


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