Posted on August 28, 2013
Writing Instruments – One Word Wednesday
I must use Dictionary.com a million times a day. I rarely read what’s on the homepage.
Instead, I hastily type or copy/paste in the word I’m looking up and then read the definition – or more likely check the spelling.
Recently I read the home page and found fascinating information about writing instruments.
If you already read this on the Dictionary.com site, you’ll recognize the photos from the article. I’ve reworded the content, but you can still stop reading.
From ancient instrument to modern day tool for electronic input. The original stylus was made of metal or bone and used to incise letters/cuneiform into tablets covered in a thin layer of wax or clay. Today we use a pen-like stylus with computers, tablets, and/or smartphones.
Used from the 6th to the 19th century, this instrument fueled most written communication. Quills were most commonly made from goose feathers. The point of the feather was cut and then dipped in ink to put words and letters on the page.
The fountain pen was the first type of pen that didn’t require the user to dip the nib repeatedly in ink to write. Fountain pens first appeared in the 1880s, and ballpoint pens appeared as early as the 1890s. Felt-tipped pens were introduced in the 1960s.
Originally made from soft limestone, chalk is now made from gypsum. Chalk was primarily used in school. Many schools today have switched to whiteboards and markers or digital interactive, but chalk is still popular for writing and drawing on sidewalks or as a fine art medium.
Nicolas-Jacques Conte, a scientist in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, invented the modern pencil in the 1790s. Graphite is encased in wood. Pressure transfers the graphite to the paper. The eraser on the end allowed for changes. That’s where the term “pencil-in” originated.
Keyboards play a major role in modern communication. The keyboard is called “QWERTY” because those six letters appear in the upper left-hand row. Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter and of the QWERTY setup, allegedly separated commonly used letters to slow down typists. Otherwise typing too fast would jam the machine. For more ergonomic or speedy setups, you should opt for alternative keyboard arrangements such as Dvorak, Colemak, or Capewell.
I discovered I’ve used all these writing instruments at one time or another.
How about you?