Shift Happens: Book about keyboard history now 400% funded on Kickstarter | Cult of Mac

Shift Happens: Book about keyboard history now 400% funded on Kickstarter


Shift Happens: A Book About Keyboards
This beautifully designed two-volume book delves deep into keyboard history.
Image: Marcin Wichary/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Shift Happens, a book about keyboards, is now 400% funded on Kickstarter. This makes it the second-most funded non-fiction book ever on the crowdfunding site. The book, by designer/writer Marcin Wichary, “tells the story of keyboards like no book ever before, covering 150 years from the early typewriters to the pixellated keyboards in our pockets,” according to the project website.

Shift Happens is available on Kickstarter until March 9. Donate $150 and you can get the two-volume hardcover set inside a slipcase.

A beautifully presented history of keyboards

Shift Happens book open
The book has 1,300 photos – all high quality, and most full-color.
Photo: Marcin Wichary

Wichary’s history of keyboards is presented in two volumes, running to a whopping 1,216 pages. Gorgeous, full-color photography accompanies the text. It also comes with a bonus volume full of making-of details. A matching slipcase will keep all three books together on your bookshelf.

While the project has been fully funded four times over, one more stretch goal at $700,000 raised will have the extra volume printed in full color rather than black and white.

Wichary spent seven years researching the project, which began when he accidentally visited the Technology Museum of l’Empordà in Figueres, Spain. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of typewriters.  Wichary started researching the book after a Twitter thread about the museum went viral.

“I wanted a book that told all the personal stories about keyboards tied in with a historical, social, and political context,” Wichary said in a statement.

A Kickstarter for the book launched on Tuesday, February 7 where you can preorder the series. It’s available for $150 until March 9.

Fun goodies on the website

3D model of the book. “I worked hard so that the vast majority of artifacts are presented via photos, rather than diagrams or patent drawings.”
See an interactive 3D model of both volumes.
Photo: Marcin Wichary

There are a few goodies and games you can find on the website. At the top, you can get a detailed preview of the book in full 3D.

Screenshot of the keyboard layout game on the C64 level
Can you beat my score on the keyboard layout game?
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

A fun game has you place keys on a blank keyboard from memory. Try the standard Mac keyboard layout — I got a 0.97, but I’ve had a lot of practice. If you’re feeling brave, try the C64 layout. I even learned how to program on a VIC-20, and I only got a 0.60 — try and beat that!

Screenshot of the chording keyboard game
With practice, you can (allegedly) type just as fast using only six keys.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Another simulates a chording keyboard. Use just six keys on your own keyboard to type all 26 letters, pressing different combinations of U, I, O, J, K and L.

Available for a limited time

Check out the Kickstarter to place a preorder while you still can. The book will start shipping out this year in the late summer and fall.

This article has been updated and republished to reflect the resounding success of the campaign.


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