12 Aug Milestones In The History Of Writing Pens
There is a great variety of writing pens nowadays. There are rollerball pens, fountain pens, reed pens, quill pens, ballpoint pen, dip pens, gel pens, antler ballpoint pens, etc. Among the most prominent pens manufacturers are Parker Pens, Mont Blanc Pens, Waterman Pens, Bic Pens, Cross Pens and many others. This remarkable writing instrument, with the help of which you can leave an ink trace on a paper surface, is an indispensable part of our life. In fact, it is an indispensable part of human culture.
The history of writing pens begins from the ancient times, approximately from year 3000 B.C. They were cut out from stalks of reed. The English word “pen” (a writing feather) came from latin “penna” meaning “feather of a bird”. It happened because of the great popularity of goose feathers, which were turned at the root. Since VI century B.C. bird feathers have been widely used by many civilizations. The best samples were made of big feathers of swans, turkey-cocks and geese. Archaeological finds in ruins Pompeii include bronze variants of writing pens, however they have received wide distribution only by the end of XVIII century. After a century pens with a capillary system, or simply fountain pens, were invented by L.E. Waterman, a New York seller of writing goods. Laszlo Biro, taking into account the last methods of manufacturing of ball-bearings for machines and weapons, added the ball mechanism to capillaries and presented the ballpoint pen to the world in 1944. The Tokyo stationery firm Pentel became the first to present the felt-tip pen to the world in 1960.
The timeroad of writing pens history is about 6000 years long. Here are the main milestones on it:
About 3000-4000 years B.C. The ancient man scratched a damp clay plate with a bronze or bone stick.
About 3000 years B.C. Egyptians started to use images in their compositions. Thin reed brushes or feathers were used to make inscriptions on rolls of papyrus.
1300 B.C. Romans used metal pens to write on thin sheets of wax put on wooden bars. Writings were erased by the other end of the pen.
Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxons began to use bars filled with wax apart from parchment. They wrote with metal or bone pens, one end of which was sharpened and the other was used for deleting.
600-1800 A.D. Europeans found out that the use of sharpened pens changed the style of writing (handwriting). First they used only capital letters, but later on they began to use small letters to increase speed of writing. Quill pen (goose feather) that for the first time appeared in Seville, Spain, was used as a writing instrument from 600 to 1800 A.D.
1790ies. Independently the slate pencil was invented in France and Australia.
1800-1850ies. The metal fountain pen was patented in 1803, but the patent was not used in commercial purposes. Steel pens were widely adopted in 1830ies. In 19th century metal pens completely replaced pens from goose feathers. In 1850 the use of quill pens appreciably decreased, as quality of steel pens got higher: their tips were made of heavy alloys with addition of iridium, rhodium, and osmium.
Lewis Edson Waterman, an insurance agent, invented the first fountain pen in 1844.
Invention the ballpoint pen is officially dated to the end of the 19-th century. In 1888 John Loud took out a patent, in 1916 – Van Vechten Reisberg. Unlike other patents these were used in commercial purposes.
Invention of the modern ball pen is attributed to Laszlo Biro and George Biro. In summer 1943 the first industrial copies were manufactured. Patent rights were bought by the British Parliament. Ballpoint pens were used by militarians during the second world war as they were more convenient and reliable than quill pens.
In 1940ies ballpoint pens appeared on the market of the USA. They were sold as the first pens which wrote underwater. Ballpoints were a tremendous success. In one of the large store departments in New York more than 10,000 ballpoint pens were sold during a lunch on October, 29 1945.
In 1953 the first inexpensive ball pens appeared, when French baron Bich of BIC Co, engaged in manufacturing of ballpoint pens, managed to improve the technological process and lowered considerably manufacturing expenses. Bic pens were very cheap and soon became extremely popular.
In 1960 the felt-tip pen was invented in Japan. Soon felt-tip pens appeared on the American market and grasped it.
Rollerball pens appeared in the beginning of 1980ies. They had a moving ball and could use liquid ink that allowed to write smoother line on paper. Technological progress of the end of 1980ies – the beginnings of 1990ies considerably improved rollerballs in all parameters.
In 1990ies pens with a rubberized surface that reduced pressing on the pen came into use and were widely adopted.
In 1997 mass production of RingPens was started. These pens were developed to write without pressing three fingers on it while writing.
Technological progress doesn’t stand still. And who knows what kind of pens we will write with in a decade, a century, a millennium…