"The first ones were good, but they weren't great. Over time they got better as we nailed down the process, and now they're pretty much perfect. We've really got it down to a science." -JSON, creator of the TKC1800
The 1800 keyboard layout is by no means a new concept. The Cherry G80-1800 was first introduced in the 1980s, being the first 1800 layout to hit the market.
1800 layouts are beneficial because they're a full sized layout in a compact space, so you're not missing out on your number pad and home cluster. TKC founder JSON has always loved the vintage-y feel of the 1800, and in 2017 he began designing his own rendition.
So with a machinist scale, AutoCad, and a lot of trial and error, the original TKC1800 was born. Once the PCB was designed*, JSON set off to secure an inventory of G80-1800 cases. Amazingly enough, he was able to negotiate a deal to buy a whole pallet through a German eBay electronics supplier in Czechoslovakia.
Unfortunately, when the pallet finally arrived, it was discovered that all of the cases had been damaged from the seller removing the silkscreened logos. After a few late night garage experiments on how to salvage the cases, it was determined that a high quality paint job actually created a badass keyboard.
*All contemporary runs of TKC1800s are made from brand new G80-1800 cases sourced from Cherry.
With the first batch in hand, JSON wanted to set the TKC1800 apart from other 1800 keyboards on the market. The answer was simple: paint. But not just any paint—high quality, high finish, automotive paint. “I went to several auto paint shops, no one would give me the time of day, until I found Wrecks N Restorations," JSON said. Wreck N Restorations is an auto repair shop based out of Rochester Hills, MI.
JSON worked with the founder, Nick, to find the perfect colors and techniques to best paint the boards. Over the years JSON and Nick have become great friends!
"It took a while to get it right. The first ones were good, but they weren’t great. Over time they got better as we nailed down the process, and now they’re pretty much perfect."
When asked what his favorite variant was, JSON had trouble choosing. "It's honestly a toss up between the Viola Matte and Lizstick Red." These two variants, along with the Candy Blue, are actually different than the other 7 painted 1800s.
These 3 are variants of the TKC1800R, the main differences in this model are: a carbon fiber plate and badge and the paint type. These boards use House of Kolorz paint and consist of a 7 layer paint job, making them "shine in the dark" and essentially glimmer in low light. The blue and lipstick are candy paint, but the purple is a pearl matte lambo.
JSON also reached out to Space Cables and had matching cables made and stamped with TKC1800R. These have a longer lead to connect inside the case.
As for the colors of the standard TKC1800, these are color matched to various auto manufacturer car colors: Shock Yellow and Blue Metallic are Chevrolet, for example. The Sunset Orange is the same paint on Jae of Prototypist's TKC1800 color matched to a vintage Datsun.
While the first release of TKC1800s was nearly 5 years ago, in 2017, this 4th round has been in the works for nearly a year. Needless to say, it's been a long time coming.
"There's nothing else on the market like it. The sound is truly unique, you’re getting a killer finish, all of the parts are custom made, so to make one on your own would be really difficult if not impossible. It’s incredibly unique and the paint jobs are killer. It’s just badass.”
Round 4 of the TKC1800 will be in stock Friday, April 8th, 2022, at 3PM EST.