Long before personal computers, laptops, tablets and of other handheld devices, there was the pencil. This simple writing device dates back to the time of the Roman stylus.
In ancient Rome paper was not made from pulp but rather from the weaving of reeds forming a sheet that was beaten to make a flat surface and was used to for books and important documents.
For more short term needs wax tablets that were pieces of wood that were tied together allowing the tablets to be opened and closed. Each tablet had a shallow recess that was filled with wax and formed the writing surface and could be smoothed over and used again The Romans wrote on the tablet with a stylus that was usually made from iron, bronze or bone with a pointed end for writing and the other flat end was used to smooth the.
Pencils were first mass-produced in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1662, and the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century really allowed the manufacture to flourish.
Before he went to the woods in 1845 to live simply, Henry David Thoreau is said to have managed in his family’s pencil business, Thoreau and Company, whose products were considered to be “the best-known pencils in the United States, praised by artists and artisans.”
But it wasn’t until 1858 when Hymen Lipman of Philadelphia patented the first pencil with an attached eraser. The eraser-tipped pencil is still something of an American thing as most European pencils are eraser-less.
Our common pencils are hexagonal to keep them from rolling off the table, and they're yellow because the best graphite came from China, and yellow is traditionally associated with Chinese royalty.
Little known pencil facts:
· A single pencil can draw a line 35 miles long, or write around 45,000 words.
· Erasers don't just work manually; they work chemically. When pencils are put to paper the graphite mingles with the paper’s fiber particles. And erasers are made of polymers that are stickier than the particles of paper, so graphite particles end up getting stuck to the eraser instead. They're almost like sticky magnets.
· The little erasers on pencil ends are known as “plugs.”
· The small bands of metal that contain the plugs are called “ferrules.”
Pencils actually plays an important roles in many sporting events as baseball managers switch players’ positions during a baseball game on the scorecard with a pencil or referees often jot down infractions and other necessary note during a game or match.
An a pencil has a components that can even help take five strokes off anyone’s golf game — it’s called the eraser.