History of the Pen

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At the start, with absolutely no technology whatsoever, pens were probably just an idea... but employed on simple items (rocks, sticks, etc.). The early humans probably scraped rocks onto other rocks, or sticks onto rocks, in an attempt to draw/write, or maybe even just for the fun of it. Cave paintings, a discovery just found recently, were paintings in caves (hence the name). Even though they seem simple to the average person, the sight of cave paintings is quite astounding. How so? Knowing cavemen actually had the technology and effort to create colorful and illustrative paintings on the walls of caves is something mind-blowing.

Pens finally took on an actual shape in 3000 BC, as the ancient Egyptians used a special type of rush that was growing on the coastline. This special type of rush is known to us as "Juncus maritimus", or sea rushes. These plants were used to develop writing on papyrus scrolls. These sea rushes were used to make thin reed bushes/reed pens. These sea rushes were very-much useful to scribes (people who write out documents), as they used reed pens to write their books.

A small advancement was made to the early writing utensil in 1300 B.C., when the Romans developed a metal stylus (which were used for writing on wax tables). The metal stylus was thoroughly defined here: “An iron instrument (Ov. Met. IX.521; Martial, XIV.21), resembling a pencil in size and shape, used for writing upon waxed tablets (Plaut. Bacch. IV.4.63; Plin. H.N. XXXIV.14). At one end it was sharpened to a point for scratching the characters upon the wax (Quintil. i.1 §27), while the other end being flat and circular served to render the surface of the tablets smooth again, and so to obliterate what had been written. Thus, vertere stilum means to erase, and hence to correct, as in the well-known precept saepe stilum vertas (Hor. Sat. 1.10.72; Cic. Verr. II.41)”. In Asia (in the same year), scribes used bronze stylus.

Forwarding several years later, the Egyptians advanced further into the pen by employing thick Calamus/Bamboo reeds (obtaining them from Armenia and Egypt). The Chinese also had their own plan [for pens] as well, as they implemented brushes [into pens] made from Camel/Rat hair. The reed pen survived until papyrus was replaced by animal skin.

After thousands and thousands of years [of] using reeds for pens, the quill pen was created in the 5-6th century in Seville, Spain. They were widely used, and the best ones were made from swan feathers, while [the writers that were poor who wanted quill pans] invested into goose feathers. Quills were quite famous for years and years on out, but the quill pen only led to new innovations to [the pen].

The quill pen was replaced by the metal nibs by 19th century. Throughout the early 19th century, the usage of the quill pen faded and the quality of metal nibs increased. Ball point pens also made their mark in the pen history in the late 19th century, but were their patents were not exploited commercially. Ball points made their public appearance in the 1940s by Josef and Georg Biro, two Germans who fled Nazi Germany to Argentina. The Biro brothers filed a new patent in 1943, and their [patent] was accepted and sold in Argentina as Birome.

After WWII, many companies wanted to commercial their own ballpoint pen. This mission was attempted in the 1940s, when the Eberhard Faber pencil factory teamed up with Eversharp Co. to license the rights [for pens] from Birome for sales in the US. But American entrepreneur Milton Reynolds beat Eberhard Faber and Eversharp Co. in introducing the ballpoint pen to the US. Reynolds achieved this by taking a business trip to Argentina and bringing back [to the US] a couple of Birome ballpoint pens. From the pens he took, he created the Reynolds International Pen Company. He got an American patent by altering the Birome pens he got, to the point he could get an American patent. Reynolds Rocket became the first commercially successful ballpoint pen. He put in a lot of work in his pens, and he was successful. He sold thousands a pens a week, $12 dollars for each pen.

Even though Reynolds and Eversharp were successful for quite some time, both of them did not fill the American public’s expectations. By the 1950s, both of them went bankrupt.

Among the emerging ballpoint pen companies (in the 1950s), the Paper Mate pens bought rights to distribute ballpoint pens in Canada. Soon they got themselves into some trouble with their pens (with ink-reliability), so they created new ink formulas and publicized their pens as "banker-approved". The company continued to sell ball point pens with mild success, as they are still alive and selling today. Though, around the same time, an American based company, Parker Pens, released their first ballpoint pen, named "The Jotter". The Jotter, according to Parker Pens (the company), had "additional features" and "technological advances" to it. The company's boasting must've worked, because the company sold several millions of pens ($3 - $9 each) in less than a year.

Another manufacturer emerged from the depths of marketing with "Bic pens" in 1953, named Michael Bich. He introduced new ballpoint pens to the American marketplace in the 1950s, and became successful in selling his Bic pens in the 1960s when he published his campaign slogan, "Writes The First Time, Every Time!". The era of the 1940s-1960s was a competitive era for every manufacture manufacturing [pens] at this period of time.

The year, 1962, was also the time when the modern development took place on the “marker pens”. The modern development was developed by Japanese Yukio Horie of the Tokyo Stationery Company (which is now known as Pentel). Marker Pens, along with highlighters, have recently became popular.

In 1963, Rollerball pens were introduced to the public in 1963 by the Japanese company, Ohto. In the 1970s, rollerball pens exceeded in popularity. In Rollerball pens, the employed mobile ball with liquid ink created smooth lines. Furthermore advances on the pens in the 1980s-1990s made the rollerball pens even easier to use.

In the 1990s, pens with a rubber covering were being made. These types of pens were commonly used by companies in order to soften the grip of users using the pen.

Although computers, phones and android (and many other gadgets in today’s world) have been invented and used as other sources of writing, the pen still today remains in our world and has not been completely replaced. Pens, such as Bic Pens and ballpoint pens, are still used everyday in countries around the world in everyday life.


  • Wikipedia contributors. "Ballpoint pen." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Mar. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
  • Wikipedia contributors. "Paper Mate." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Mar. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
  • Wikipedia contributors. "Quill." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
  • "HISTORY OF WRITING IMPLEMENTS - over 6000 Years." HISTORY OF WRITING IMPLEMENTS - over 6000 Years. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
  • "Ballpoint Pen History – Who Invented Ballpoint Pen?" History of Ballpoint Pens – Who Invented Ballpoint Pen? N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

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