Forward Electronics is a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer. The company was founded in 1970 as a joint venture between Alps Electric of Japan and Chunghwa Electronic Development Co., Ltd. (or Chung Hwa Electronics Investment Co., Ltd. according to Forward Electronics).
The Forward Electronics website indicates that Forward Electronics began manufacturing keyboards and keyswitches in 1985, although no details have ever been recovered to indicate what these may have been. One explanation is that they were assembling existing switch types using parts supplied from Japan, although it seems fairly likely that Forward Electronics were responsible for the poorer grade injection moulding seen in some SKCL/SKCM switches. Some Alps switch types may have been manufactured entirely by Forward, perhaps exclusively. The later SKBL/SKBM “simplified Alps” switches are likely to have been made solely by Forward Electronics.
On the 27th of March 2000, Alps announced the end of the joint venture after 30 years; the joint venture had concluded ten days prior, on the 17th of March. Alps’s 50% stake was sold off to Tatung Co., Ltd. and Chung Hwa Picture Tubes Co., Ltd. Alps stated that “Alps will continue to maintain a close relationship through technological support and by supplying components and parts.”
Forward Electronics would continue manufacturing Alps-branded SKBL/SKBM keyboard switches for a few more years before they were rebranded “F D”. The rebranded switches have a logo only on the bottom of the switch: the Alps oval logo was replaced, while the top logo was simply removed.
Ownership of the production equipment for SKBL/SKBM series passed to Datacomp and this switch series was restored to production. Matias cloned SKBL/SKBM and sells its own variation of them, using a transparent shell to allow for SMD LED illumination.