Evolution of Pens

In modern times, the notion of owning a pen almost seems second nature thanks to the accessibility of ball point pens all over the globe. It is easy to forget that the varients of pens we see before us today didn’t exist 250 years ago. But with the Earth being thousands if not millions of years old, what did the people of time gone by use to write down their thoughts and imaginations? Did someone one day just all of a sudden discover ink? Or was it a slow process that spanned hundreds of years? If, like us, you want to know how that nifty ball point pen came to being in existence in front of you, then take a look below as we look at the evolution of the humble pen.


As we touched on during the previous page, the reed pen came into existence around 3000BC and was used by the Ancient Egyptians. Crafted from a piece of bamboo or reed, the archaic writing equipment featured a small slit to act as the tip. The use of a reed pen has all but died out, but a small number of schools in parts of India and Pakistan still use this type of pen to teach children to write on timber boards known as “Takhti”.


Having been the most used equipment to jot down any information, reed pens slowly started to be phased out in the 7th century as more and more people started to use quills. Made from a feather of a large bird, quills were used during the medieval times and were often found to be the feathers of geese.


One of the main set-backs to using a reed pen or a quill was that the user would often get covered in ink. As a result of this, Ma’ād al-Mu’izz, the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt demanded that he was to be brought a pen that wasn’t going to stain his hands or clothes. This historical moment happened mid-10th century and the pen that was brought before him came with a little reservoir which housed the ink that was passed to the nib. Although the writing equipment described sounds like a modern-day fountain pen, it wasn’t until 1809 that a man by the name of Bartholomew Folsh received a patent in England for a fully functional pen that came with a separate ink reservoir.

The fountain pen as we know it today came into existence when M. Klein and Henry W. Wynne were granted a patent for a pen that housed an ink chamber inside the handle of the pen. This was to change the world forever.


The most commonly found pen in 21st century life would be that of the rollerball. First introduced in the 1970s, the rollerball pen used a mobile ball with liquid ink to provide a smooth finish. Since the introduction of this type of pen, marker pens and highlighters have also become extremely popular in everyday life.