The Keyboard Company have a fun blog, An introduction to Cherry MX mechanical switches, accompanied by these great animated GIFs that visually explain the differences in the colors of available Cherry switches (their blog describe the switches in much further detail).
Cherry Corporation was founded in the United States in 1953 and started producing keyboards in 1967, making them the oldest keyboard manufacturer in the world that’s still in business. The company was moved to Germany in 1967 and bought by ZF Friedrichshafen AG in 2008, but keyboards and mechanical switches are still produced under the Cherry brand.
Their most popular line of switches, the Cherry MX series, was introduced around 1985. These switches are usually referenced by their physical colour, with each colour denoting the switch’s handling characteristics – whether it is clicky, whether it is tactile, and how much force is required to actuate the switch, in centi-Newtons (cN) or grams (g).
Now that we’ve explained a bit of the background information, we can have a look at the switches themselves – starting with the four most common varieties.
Also be sure to watch this episode of Pseudorandom on Mechanical Keyboards – the music video for the episode beginning at 6:20 gives some quick glimpses of the inside of various switches: