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The Evolution of Linear Switches: From Vintage to Modern

by sophiajames
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In the world of mechanical keyboards, enthusiasts and professionals alike have a deep appreciation for the subtle nuances that different switches bring to their typing and gaming experiences. Among the various types of switches, linear switches have a rich history that has seen significant evolution over the years. From vintage to modern, this article will take you on a journey through the fascinating evolution of linear switches.

  1. The Early Days: Vintage Linear Switches

Linear switches have been around since the inception of mechanical keyboards, dating back to the early 1980s. These vintage linear switches were characterized by their simplicity and durability. The most iconic among them was the Cherry MX Black, a switch that set the standard for linear switches.

  • Cherry MX Black (1984)

The Cherry MX Black, one of the earliest linear switches, featured a smooth keystroke with a consistent actuation force throughout the keypress. These switches gained popularity among typists for their quiet keystrokes and were used in many vintage mechanical keyboards.

  1. The Rise of Variety: Mid-20th Century

As technology advanced, so did the variety of linear switches available on the market. Mechanical keyboard enthusiasts began to experiment with different materials and designs, leading to an expansion in options.

  • Cherry MX Red (2008)

The Cherry MX Red switch, introduced in 2008, brought a lighter actuation force compared to its vintage counterparts. This made it a favorite among gamers for its rapid responsiveness and smooth keystrokes.

  • Gateron and Kailh Switches

Gateron and Kailh, two prominent manufacturers, introduced their linear switches, offering enthusiasts more choices. Gateron switches, for instance, added variations like the Gateron Yellow, known for its ultra-smooth keystrokes and lighter actuation force.

III. The Modern Era: Customization and Innovation

In recent years, the mechanical keyboard community has experienced an explosion in popularity. With this growth, switch manufacturers have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible, resulting in a new era of linear switches.

  • Novel Materials

Switches like the NovelKeys Creams feature innovative materials like POM (polyoxymethylene) for smoother keystrokes and reduced friction, creating a premium typing experience.

  • Lubed and Silent Switches

Enthusiasts have taken customization to a new level by lubing their switches to reduce friction and noise. Silent linear switches, like the Cherry MX Silent Red, offer a quieter typing experience for those who prefer stealthy keystrokes.

  • Hot-Swappable Keyboards

Modern mechanical keyboards often come with hot-swappable switches, allowing users to change their switches without soldering. This feature has opened the door for easy experimentation with various linear switches.


The evolution of linear switches has been a journey from vintage simplicity to modern customization and innovation. What started as a straightforward, durable switch has evolved into a diverse array of options that cater to a wide range of preferences, from typists to gamers. Whether you prefer the classic feel of a vintage Cherry MX Black or the ultra-smooth keystrokes of a modern NovelKeys Cream, one thing is certain: the world of linear switches continues to evolve, providing enthusiasts with exciting options to enhance their typing and gaming experiences. As technology continues to advance, who knows what the future holds for these beloved mechanical keyboard components?


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