The History of Writing InstrumentsWriting instruments have been in existence for more than 6,000 years. The first instrument used to write was likely a sharpened stone for carving onto cave walls. The writing stylus was developed by the Greeks, and was fashioned from bronze, ivory or animal bone for use on wax or wet clay tablets. They were used on wax-covered boards or wet clay tablets.
The common use of ink came onto the scene in China around 1,200 BC, although its invention was more than 1,000 years earlier. A mixture of pine soot, lamp oil and other substances, ink's popularity prompted the invention of paper-like materials, such as papyrus and parchment. The Romans developed the first fountain pens from cut reeds filled with ink. Soon after, quill pens dominated as the writing instrument of choice, and these eco-friendly pens remained popular for about 1,000 years.
In 1795, a French chemist named Nicholas Conte developed and patented the pencil. The writing device he created was a combination of clay and crushed stone, which inspired today's graphite pencil. Mechanical pencils, which fed loose lead into the instrument, eliminating the need for sharpening, were developed in the early 19th century.
Pens that carried their own supply of ink had been around since 1702. However, Louis Waterman patented the first fountain pen that became practical enough for regular use in 1884. The ink was loaded into the by inserting the nib into an inkwell and releasing pressure on a balloon, which filled the reservoir by suction.
The pre-loaded ink cartridge for use in fountain pens was invented in 1950, which added convenience. Sadly, the development of the ballpoint pen occurred at the same time, and overshadowed this important development. The classic fountain pen soon fell out of favor.
Ballpoint pens revolutionized writing and shifted the focus on what was important in a writing instrument. The ballpoint pen offered long-lasting writing with convenience, and encouraged the development of several companies willing to fight for market share. As a result, pens often did not perform as promised and popularity dropped. Fountain pens climbed back out of obscurity.
In the late 1950's the ballpoint surges back in the market under the guidance of a French baron by the name of Bich, and BIC pens become a household staple. Although many manufacturers are selling millions of pens each year, BIC continues to be the dominant force in writing instruments.
Pens have become entrenched into today's society. From classic and collectable fountain pens, to retractable pens, to high-priced executive pens, there are enough choices to satisfy almost everyone's taste and budget.
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