Do you ever wonder about the history of keyboards? How did we get from typewriters to modern computers and phones? And why does QWERTY still look the same after 150 years? If you’re intrigued by these questions, then you’ll be excited to know that a new book called “Shift Happens” is coming out soon.
The author, Marcin Wichary, has been fascinated by keyboards for years. He stumbled upon a magical typewriter museum in Spain, wrote about the Turkish typewriter, and even discovered a strange keyboard bug while working at Medium and Figma. But despite all of this, he realized that there has never been a comprehensive and human story of keyboards.
So he decided to write it himself.
“Shift Happens” is not just a book about the technical details of keyboards. It’s a book about people and stories. It’s about typists competing during the Shift Wars of the 1880s, Margaret Longley and Lenore Fenton perfecting touch typing, Nobel-prize winner Arthur Schawlow building a laser to destroy his typewritten typing mistakes, and August Dvorak – and many others – trying to dethrone QWERTY.
But it’s not just about the past. It’s also about the present and the future. It’s about women pouring into offices, eager to do more than typing and re-typing, people trying to figure out an Australian epidemic of something dubbed “RSI,” and the designers of Backspace, Escape, Shift, Pizza, and many other common (but mysterious) keys. It’s about people blending the past and the future to make the best mechanical keyboard today.
This book is bursting with interesting and unique stories, many of which have never been told before. And with over 1,300 photos, including historical photographs of keyboards in use and modern, beautiful photos of all kinds of keyboards, it’s sure to be a visual feast as well.
But “Shift Happens” is not just a product of research and writing. It’s also an artifact of craft and love. The author spent countless hours obtaining permission for photos, commissioning realistic renders of artifacts that were lost to time, and even recreating a classic key font just for the book. The footnote symbols were even designed to participate in telling the story.
If you’re into mechanical keyboards, typewriters, industrial design, tech history, or just enjoy stories of everyday objects, “Shift Happens” is the book for you. It’s nerdy, approachable, and goes deep into a fascinating subject. And who knows, after reading this book, you might just find yourself obsessing over keyboards too.
See also: Online typewriter simulator