I’ve Typed 22 Million Keystrokes on Apple’s Horrid Butterfly Keyboard

I’m gonna savor every penny of my $125 settlement

Clive Thompson

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My laptop with its terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad keyboard

You may have heard that Apple has finally agreed to pay restitution to every wretch who bought a Macbook Pro with a busted, terrible “butterfly” keyboard.

It is, without doubt, the worst keyboard in history.

I should know — for four years, I’ve been suffering through using it.

In fact, I can tell you precisely how many times I’ve touched this benighted, ghastly piece of industrial un-design.

That’s because the other day I wrote a quick Python keylogger script to record my keyboard activity for a few days.

What did I discover? That I type, on average, about 26,284 keystrokes a day. And I use this laptop keyboard about 50% of the time I’m working.

So in the four and a half years I’ve used this Macbook Pro, I’ve typed 22.3 million keystrokes.

Every single one of them was miserable.

Every. Single. One.

If I receive a $125 payout for having bought one of these pieces of garbage, Apple will have compensated me 0.00027 of a cent per keystroke.

I’ll take it.

In many respects, I have only myself to blame. By the time I bought my Macbook Pro in the fall of 2017, stories of the “butterfly keyboard” — and its Lovecraftian ergonomics — were already legion.

In case you don’t know the grim details, the gist of it is: In the 2010s, Apple designers had a wild-eyed obsession with making their laptops skinnier and skinnier. But the keyboard switches (the little things inside each key that click shut to register a keypress) were limiting how thin Apple could go. So they adopted a new style of switch: A“butterfly” design that was 40% thinner than the previous keyswitches. Presto: They shaved crucial fractions of a millimeter off the whole machine.

The problem, as was quickly revealed when actual paying customers got their hands on these insufferable…

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Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”. @clive@saturation.social clive@clivethompson.net