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The Future of the Pencil

Updated on July 7, 2014

The Wonderful Pencil

Quick Pencil History

The pencil has been around for many years. Craftsmen have been making these simple devices for nearly four centuries. The world’s biggest branded pencil manufacture, Faber-Castell, has been making pencils since 1761. The pencil has definitely seen its fair share of changes. From the early age of using a thick stylus like instrument made of metal led, to the graphite, encased in wood design, we use today.

Amazingly such a simple device does require quite a process to create. The wood must first be milled, and then six half circle grooves are cut in order to insert the graphite lead. Once the glue dries, a special machine is used to give a shape to the pencil. Once the pencil has the right shape, it is painted and graded. Of course the first pencils ever made, were done so with a much simpler process, but not nearly as effective. Thank goodness for innovation!

A Wonderful Tool with Many Uses

For ages, pencils have made a mark in our thoughts and dreams. Several masterpieces of art have been created using the pencil. Children all over the world are taught by using this humble device. Throughout the years American Generals jotted down battle plans with a simple pencil. This wonderful tool has created and recorded history for so long, it is often taken for granted and its origin forgotten.

Not only has this amazing masterpiece been used for writing and drawing, but people today have found several other uses. Some of the most popular include: Chop sticks, back scratchers, pointers, wood for fires, bookmarks, or even throwing darts. I have actually attempted the throwing darts myself, but found myself re-sharpening the pencil more than actually throwing them.

What Does the Future of the Pencil Look Like

This question is difficult to predict. Many people thought that pencils would become obsolete as the computer age grew. However sales continue to grow. More than 15 billion are still produced each year, with over 2 billion of those still coming from Faber-Castell. Pencils remain cheap, sturdy and popular in schools today, especially in the poor countries. As the countries acquire more income the pencil cases grow fatter, but only up to a point.

However, while pencil production remains strong, gadgets production is even stronger. The 21st century student is overwhelmed with so many gadgets and contraptions designed to “help” them with their schoolwork. Over the past 10 years the versatility of the tabled has changed many students approach to their learning. The list of available tables is incredible, not to mention every time you purchase one, there is another one already on the market and others in the production stage.

The influx of these gadgets has allowed people to transform their personal lives. Not only students, but adults in the workplace, rely on these devices to track and record every aspect of their lives. While I agree that this technology has certainly enhanced and simplified my life, I do not want the simple art of writing with a pencil forgotten.

Studies have shown that writing by hand actually strengthens the learning process in a human’s brain. When a person writes, the brain receives signals from the physical action of putting pencil to paper. These signals are very different than those received from typing on a keyboard or touching a screen. When a person writes by hand, the movements involved transfer a signal to the portion of the brain which assists in the process of recognizing letters and retaining information. It is important that we continue to utilize this portion of our brain and teach our children to do the same.

Write the answer to this question: What is your favorite color?

This probably seemed like a simple mindless task, but in reality your body and brain had to work together to complete a series of steps.

  • Pick up the pencil
  • Hold it steady
  • Remember the color you wanted to write down
  • Think about what letters appear in the word and in what order
  • Move your wrist and hand in the right way to shape the letters
  • Follow what you wrote with your eyes
  • Apply the proper amount of pressure to the paper

Tablet vs Pencil

There is no argument that tablets and other devices are on the rise. The world is becoming increasing technologically oriented. Students and adults alike are beginning to change their habits. I am all for technological advances, and love my tablet, although keeping up with latest edition, is a battle I am definitely losing. I will continue to utilize my tablet and teach my children the same. However at the same time, I will also ensure the simple act of writing with pencils is not neglected.

Incidentally I found myself very impressed with one of the latest Apple Commercials aired recently. The ad is for one of the latest tablets and focuses on the pencil up to the very end, when the product is revealed behind the pencil showing the very thin tablet. I do feel there will always be a place for the pencil. Faber-Castell still searches for further refinement as development continues. Perhaps the pencil could be made tougher or easier to look at. But I do think that form of writing and recording will continue to maintain a spot in our lives for some time to come.

Pencil Trivia

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Interestingly the answer is no. A pen uses gravity to write, however with pencils, fine particles from graphite dust come out and would start floating around in the cabin posing a health threat to the astronauts.


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    • Leslie Ramos profile image

      Leslie Ramos 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Great point, comparing to books! Thank you for noticing my quiz was incorrect. I have edited it now, had the wrong answer selected. Thanks so much for pointing that out!

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      I think pencils are like books. There will always be alternatives, but there will always be a time and place for a pencil. By the way - the results of the quiz are in contradiction with the last part of your article. Maybe you made a typo?

    • profile image

      Ed 4 years ago

      Great article - something to think about!

    • profile image

      Ted 4 years ago

      Interesting article!