The Pencil May Soon Be Dead

A dear friend of mine said that you know you have nothing to write about when you start writing about pencils. I beg to differ.

The history of the pencil is vast, interesting, and with the rise of computers in society, as well as schools phasing out hand-writing in general, the pencil may soon be dead.

Graphite, the original necessary ingredient found in early pencils, was first used to mark sheep in the 1500’s in England. England then monopolized the pencil market for a good 300 years, before Italy got a hold of it, adding the wood handle, leaving graphite in the middle. The eraser was added to the end of a pencil after the formula was slightly changed in the mid-1800’s.

Today, pencil sales are down. People like Thomas Edison, who has specially made pencils that were exactly three inches long but somewhat thicker than normal pencils (insert your own penis joke here) are dead. Even John Steinbeck, a slightly unstable pencil-obsessed writer, has been cited as using up to 60 in a day (his very famous book, East of Eden, took 300 pencils to write) is also dead. Even the author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” who needed six sharpened pencils a day before he could start working, is dead.

Pencil manufacturing is slowly coming to an end, as fewer and fewer young Americans write. As CNN reported, the handwriting of young Americans is terrible. That same article cites that cursive is a lost art, stating that 46, a whopping 46, have adopted educational standards that does not include cursive writing. I remember having to learn cursive. It was horrible to learn, sitting down with a pencil in hand, and having to stay perfectly in the inch-ish wide space, making sure to loop my l’s and z’s properly, and forgetting to cross my t’s and dot my i’s when I was done.

But to this day, I still can write in cursive, quite well.

As the mobile application blog, APPMODO notes, you don’t need to learn to write in cursive, there’s an app for it. After a quick look in my android marketplace, I found one. It’ll teach me how to write in cursive, should I forget, but it, won’t write in pencil.

Though it’s sad to see fewer pencils, it’s even sadder to see even fewer handwritten words. I must confess, that though I am an expert typist, there are times when I just have to feel my hand weak from straining to actually hand write something (though I must confess, if given the choice, I like pens — being left handed, I have learned that pencil’s smear more and the last thing I want is my paper smudged and illegible, especially if I write in the soon-to-be-dead language: cursive.)

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