Evolution of the pen

Evolution of the pen

11 October 2020 Off By historic-pen

The history of the pen is vast, as vast as its influence on the progress of mankind. It is the main contributor of the best and the worst inventions. It is, in part, thanks to the pen that mankind has become what it is today.

The history of the pen is immense, its creation dates from writing with a stylus, nib and brush, around -4000 BC.

Clay cuneiform text
Clay cuneiform text

All civilizations began writing by engraving on stones, later progessing onto clay and wooden tablets before using parchments (papyrus) and paper.

Styluses and other engraving tools were replaced by bird feathers when the first papyri and paper came into being.

Even in the 19th century, the constraints inherent in the use of the quill and the inkwell made the task of writing difficult.

  • Transport issues (transport of fragile material in large cases)
  • Autonomy issues (regularly having to dip the nib in the inkwell)
  • Durability issues (feather cutting, regular changes necessary)
the quill and the inkwell
The quill and the inkwell

We then saw the first attempts to improve the writing tool:

  • Addition of a reservoir for the ink so that it became incorporated into the pen.
  • Changes of materials used: replacing the tip of the feather with a horn or tortoiseshell tip.

The main difficulty encountered at this point was the flow of ink, which was the subject of many mistakes.

Mister Petrache
Mr. Petrache

It was not until the end of the 19th century that Petrache Poenaru filed a patent to improve the product and the fountain pen took off.

Mr. Biro
Mr. Biro

The first idea for the ballpoint pen was put forward in 1865, but it was not until 1938 that we would see the emergence of the ballpoint pen as we know it today. José Ladislav Biro, a journalist, came up with the idea of combining the fountain pen with the principle of rapid drying used in newspaper printing, and replacing the nib with a ball.

Mr. Bich
Mr. Bich

It was in 1945 that Biro ceded his patent to the frenchman Marcel Bich, who went on to improve the ballpoint pen to make writing work easier. He decided to produce it in large quantities in order to reduce production costs, making the product accessible to everyone. It has sold over 100 billion copies worldwide today.