Writing Has Morphed over Time
Oral Contribution to the History of Writing
I’m not an anthropologist, but I have looked into the general history of writing. But before words were written they were formulated as language and spoken. Most histories and stories were passed down generation to generation orally, though putting things in writing began much earlier than originally thought, back as far as 3200 BC. However, for the most part oral traditions of passing on history and stories continued to be the norm.
The Earliest Writing Methods
Apparently the earliest form of writing was the use of a reed stylus to incise characters into clay tablets. Later words were chiseled into stone. The earliest writing was in the form of characters of one sort or another that symbolized spoken words, but not the words themselves. The formulation of actual words developed over time.
What I find fascinating is that writing began with stylus and clay and chisel and rock. Those were the original pen and paper of the writer or author.
At various points in history in a number of cultures the etching or painting of picture figures were used as a means of writing points of their histories or as symbols of their stories. Some of these pictographs or petroglyphs go back thousands of years and some hundreds of years. I have come across numerous Native Americans pictographs that use such symbols to tell their stories. I took the petroglyph pictures accompanying this blog in nearby canyons.
The Next Big Steps in the History of Writing
From what I can tell, the next big step in the history of writing was the hollow reed pen. They were used by both the Egyptians and the Romans. Such pens were made from papyrus plants, sedge, or bamboo, whatever was available. The quill pen was a further advancement that was first used in the Dark Ages—bird feathers replacing the reed. Such pens were in use for almost 1500 years. A bit of trivia that I find interesting is that Thomas Jefferson bred special geese to keep himself in writing implements. That was a common practice.
With time the steel nub point pen replaced the quill pen. And as with the quill, the nub point was dipped in an inkwell used to write a word or two and then dipped again. I have used one of those pens, but found the fountain pen much more efficient, though both were often messy. The fountain pen had its own inkwell within its core.
The next step is wat we generally refer to as the ball point pen. There are also fiber point pens, but they do not seem to function as well as the ball point. Of course, you use the ball point as I do. But the pen is not the best tool for writing histories, stories, and other documents. That leads to the next major development.
On to an Amazing Invention
The amazing invention that revolutionized writing for the author was the typewriter. Of course the printing press revolutionized publication of documents. But for the writer it was the typewriter. Bang those keys! Those were the days, paper, carbon paper, the pain of corrections. Ah, then there was the electric typewriter. Wow! Advancement!
Then History Speeds Up
Previous to the typewriter advancements in writing tools came in slow motion over periods of years and years. But the process sped up, moving quickly from the mechanical typewriter to the electric models. But it was not long until we were dancing the keys of a word processor. Wow! What a grand innovation!
Oh, wait, these new-fangled things called computers should be able to do even more than these clumsy word processors. Sure enough! And the advancement in computer technology has brought us to where we are today. That is the history of writing in brief. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, but wait! Pull your fingers off those keys! As I understand it, for many authors voice recognition writing has usurped the keyboard. Wow!
I trust you have enjoyed this little tour of the fascinating history of writing. What is your experience with the advancement of writing? Share with me my other readers. Thanks much!