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A Keyboard to Make Sherlock Holmes Proud

We rarely feature those so-called steampunk doo-hickeys, which imagine a world where steam power drives contemporary technology. Richard Nagy's keyboard, The Marquis, might change that stance.

The Marquis keyboard seems straight out of the Victorian era, with sides made of polished brass and covered with engraved flourishes. Everything is held together by four prominent screws on the four corners. The rounded and clearly separated keys themselves look more at home on typewriter than in front of a computer. Key labels are also engraved, on a "mirrored gold acrylic" surface.

Despite its old-school aesthetic, the Marquis is very much compatible with modern computer systems—even those that don't need a coal furnace to operate properly. With a USB cable, the keyboard works with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems, and Datamancer is willing to change the keys if the eventual buyer is a Mac user.

Oh, and speaking about buying: The Marquis is currently available on eBay for a steep price of $1,500. Bidding lasts until July 3, 2010. Of course the product page is full of glowing testimonials about datamancer's other keyboards, but is it really wise to spend over a thousand dollars on a keyboard? You'll probably wear out the WSAD keys after a few months anyway.

The Marquis -Victorian Steampunk keyboard by Datamancer (starting at $1,500)

  • sliem
    Dang that looks cool but I can't type with that -- and also super expensive. Maybe someone in China can make a $40 clone?
    Reply
  • gwolfman
    Didn't you report on this like a year ago? Anyways, to each his own.
    Reply
  • buwish
    Perhaps if I owned a Victorian themed home...then I'd buy this.
    Reply
  • chickenhoagie
    pretty sweet lookin..keys look typewriterish though.
    Reply
  • HolyCrusader
    It is a nice-looking keyboard. I've seen this (or a very similar) keyboard at least a year ago, although I don't remember a $1500 price tag on it.
    Reply
  • inglourious basterd
    "You'll probably wear out the WSAD keys after a few months anyway."

    This keyboard is a modded IBM model M; your fingers will likely wear out before the WSAD keys do.
    Reply
  • Anaxamenes
    Ugh, a artist/craftsman makes something awesome and then everyone wants to run off to China to rip it off and make it consumable instead of appreciating it as a piece of functional art.
    Reply
  • Well, there's no way to judge a keyboard until you've gotten your hands on it and felt it. Personally I'd give anything to have a late 70s/early 80's keyboard from a VT110/102 terminal, that was wholly compatible with modern hardware. The feel and touch of those were incredible, compared to modern keyboards. Then again, they were designed as industrial equipment with a price tag to match. Most modern ones feel sloppy, with very litle key movement,and a haphazard feel. Keytronic used to make good ones, they were the default price/quality choice for pretty much every systembuilder in Finland (where I'm from). I haven't found a keyboard that I COMPLETELY liked since. I don't want one with fiddly bits, multimedia controls, LCD displays, or macros. All of that crap should be left to optional control devices. The Z-boards and Nostromo's and their like are wonderful devices; I've owned and used a number them. Especially the new Nostromo is a wonderful piece of kit and I've quite liked the Zboard Fang. What I want from a keyboard is no-nonse text input and a good key-feel. I haven't found a perfect solution yet. I'm currently using a mac-keyboard on a Win/Ubuntu machine and I'm moderately satisfied with it. Here's hoping for a better future, and don't ask me about my troubles about finding a good trackball...
    Reply
  • rigaudio
    Nice to see some actual steampunk efforts instead of someone just slapping some brass-coloured tubes on something and calling it a day.
    Reply
  • andy_newton
    @Dactyl Spondee

    Try Old school IBM Ultranav. I own a keypad-less Mac keyboard but I still prefer the ultranav over the Mac keyboard (although it is also very nice). It comes with (rather useless) touchpad and (most of the time not functional) trackpoint but I should tell you it is the best non-tactile keyboard around.

    They have it with an without the numeric keypad depends on your preferences.

    Mine is the numeric-keypad-less old school one without the Windows key. It's Fn CTRL ALT SPACE ALT CTRL. Nicely remaps from Mac OS X keyboard preferences into option command space command option. You can remap caps lock into ctrl if you need to.

    Now my main concern is: where can I buy another one for a back up. Because the newer version forces fitting in a windows key that results in much smaller keys as follows: Fn CTRL Win ALT SPACE ALT and added some ruckus "ONLY-GOD-KNOWS-WHAT-KEY" and CTRL. It doesn't remap nicely anymore to any other OS than Windows.

    Hope that helps.

    -ND
    Reply