My Other Project

Inspired by the Steampunk Keyboard Mod page and a long term crush on Amanda Pays (Theora on Max Headroom, who had an actual typewriter for her keyboard), I put this together:


It looks better in person than it does in the pictures, actually.


Ask friends or co-workers of the cheap keyboard that "came with the computer" that's probably in the closet gathering dust. This one's a Dell USB.

Carriage Return

Use a Dremel rotary tool to chop the edges off the keys - basically draw a box on the top of each key until the "skirt" falls off

Numeric Keypad 

Order all the keys you need on eBay - search on "typewriter keys royal". Note that you'll need 3 complete sets (all of two, a few from one more). Pay attention to whether you want round or rectangular keys for the "special"keys. Expect to pay about $1 per key. If you can, get the logo!

Royal Logo

To make the non-standard key-caps (Carriage return, Function keys, "1"... none of those were around 100 years ago!) either touch type and ignore the glyphs (like I did for the numbers and some of the punctuation) or pry the backs off of the keys and use an inkjet printer to make your own labels. I used Lucida Sans for the lettering and Bodoni MT for the punctuation. It's not a perfect fit, but it's good enough. Have fun with the labels - the vintage keys already have wacky titles like "Shift Freedom" (as opposed to "shift lock" I suppose?) and "Tabular". I designed the keys using the Drawing and Word Art features in Word. (I once implemented that UI and functionality in an Office product, so I'm extremely familiar with the quirks of the UI!)

Weirdo Keys 

Use JB Kwik to affix the keys to the posts.


The end result feels pretty good. It's slightly noisier than a normal keyboard, which adds to the charm. The smaller Return key is not a problem - you adapt quickly.