– THE PEN –
Man has never been satisfied with simply talking. For some reason he has always considered his ideas to be so important that he has always tried to find ways to record them on paper.
Man has developed many systems of writing; he also developed various tools with which to write. One of the first instruments developed by man for writing was the stylus. It was a sharp instrument made of bone or metal, and with it the writer could make marks on stone or wood. It was used for thousands of years and was very practical.
The idea of using pen and ink was developed by the Egyptians. Their version of the pen was made from bamboo. They sharpened one end of the stem (or the body) to make a nib, that is, the point which you write with. Then they filled the empty part of the stem with ink and forced the ink onto the nib. It was a good idea, but when paper was later introduced, a much finer instrument was needed.
The problem was solved with the introduction of the quill pen. The quill is a large feather from the wing or tail of a bird. The quill also gave us the word ‘pen’ – feather in Latin is penna. Because this pen was a feather, however, it had to be sharpened quite often.
A special instrument was made for this purpose, the penknife. The quill was used from the 6th through the 18th century, but in the 19th century a machine was invented which successfully made a nib out of metal and which, thus, solved the problem of sharpening. The nib could be fitted into a holder and dipped into a bottle of ink.
Finally, in 1884, a young American, Lewis Waterman, found a way of putting the ink into the holder, and the fountain pen as we know it was complete. Although the fountain pen was very popular, a more popular kind of pen was introduced in 1943. This was the ball-point pen, invented by Laszlo Biro, an Argentinian.