Brief History of Writing

Writing Help - Invention of computersHow writing changed the world

Writing has an origin, its history has an incredible story to tell but has continued to evolve over the years. 

From the earliest scratches on stone and bone to the languages of computers and the internet, the history of writing offers a fascinating investigation into the origin and development of writing throughout the world,’’(Fisher S. aR., 2003).

The origins of writing can be traced back to 5 000 years ago. It has evolved over the years from the era of the pen, keyboard to the modern digital age. There is no shadow of a doubt the history of writing is a fascinating subject. It has transformed the world and reaped lasting benefits for humankind.

Why do humans write?
People have a general conception of writing as being a status symbol. Just being able to write gives our associates the impression that we are well educated. As they say, clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.

Today’s modern world has opened doors for all people to have access to great works written by artists of different genres. Undeniably, this has exposed us to an unprecedented level of information wealth.

Steven Fischer (2003) writes about the benefits stemming from writing. He states that writing used to be a specialised domain for only a few thousand. In sharp contrast, today writing has become a skill practised by almost 85% of the global population.

The significance of writing to the global society can better be appreciated through an understanding of the origins of writing.

History of writing timeline
Fisher, S.(2003) defines writing as the graphic counterpart of speech, the ‘fixing’ of spoken language in a permanent or semi-permanent.

Writing is one of the many forms of conveying human speech. Before the invention of writing, human beings made use of a wealth of graphic symbols and various kinds of memory tools.

For example, the use of the Egyptians’ consonantal n-sign to depict waves. Most writing systems and scripts that used to exist long back are now extinct. 

Ancient- Egyptian- hieroglyphs

Ancient writing system
Following a series of continuous developments, the Latin alphabet has become the world’s most important writing system.

The Latin alphabet in which English and other languages are conveyed today. 

Writing Help Why humans invented writing?

The realisation that we needed to store information and use it for communication led to the invention of writing.

Martin H. (1988), writes in his book that humans have always desired the means and media to preserve and reproduce expressions of their culture and history.

Art Historian, Michael Fitzgerald, writes about cave paintings in Zimbabwe which were used in the 19th century to record the bush men’s cultural practices. He says there’s a lot of literature available on these paintings.

Wayne Senne (1991) also writes that writing stemmed from the “Sign, Symbol, Script.” He also touched on the genesis of the world’s major writing systems including cuneiform, hieroglyphs, various alphabets, early Germanic runes and Celtic systems, Chinese characters, and ancient American symbols.

Development of writing in Mesopotamia
It is believed that both the writing of language and numbers started in two places namely Mesopotamia around 3200 BC and Mesoamerica around 900 BC.

How has writing changed over the years?
The Cuneiform writing system was the first form of communication beyond the use of pictograms. The earliest writing systems evolved roughly at the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The Sumerian language is one of the earliest known written languages between c. 3300 to 3000 BC where records were purely logographic. This means they had no linguistic or phonological content. 

Old- Dutch- Type- Writing Help

Old Dutch Type Writer

  1. Cuneiform developed in Mesopotamia. It consisted of lines and dashes rather than an alphabet. 

  2. Egypt had its famous hieroglyphs, many of which still survive today. 

  3. The phoenician alphabet originated on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

When were fountain pens invented?
The first fountain pen was invented in Paris in May 1827 and its production increased in the 1850s. The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued in 1888.

Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer, conceptualised and invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century.

JD Bolter (1991) sees the computer as a new technology for reading and writing. And it’s the type of writing that interacts with the needs and desires of the reader.

The history of writing is broad including the writing of numbers. What I have written is just a tip of the iceberg.

It is thought that human beings developed language c. 35000 BCE as evidenced by cave paintings. (Bryn Mawr, 2013).

Language existed long before writing, emerging probably simultaneously at the site of the ancient torquoise mines at Serabit-al-Khadim in the Sinai. (Averil Cameron).

The history of literature begins with the invention of writing, in Bronze Age. Although the earliest Classics were in Ancient Greek, from the 3rd century BC, Greek 1100-800 BC date of the redaction of the extant text of the Rigveda

To continue reading the history of writing and its development, check The Invention of The Computer.

If you have any questions in relation to, Brief History of Writing please leave them below. I will be more than  happy to respond as soon as I can.


Writing Help


8 Comments to “Brief History of Writing”

  1. Jess says:

    What an absolutely fascinating post. I’ve not read much about the history and writing nor thought about it but since reading this post it has made me fascinated.

    I think we often take for granted the fact that we are able to communicate so freely with others around us. Not only by writing on paper but through technology, sharing ideas and opinions with anyone anywhere in the world!

    When we learn about the history of something, it really allows us to appreciate where we’re at in time right now.

    Thank you for the knowledgable information. It has definitely inspired me to look into things below surface level by learning about the history and development of things.


    1. Femia says:

      Thanks so much for your kind comment!
      It feels good to read such nice words from you.

  2. Simon Crowe in Asia says:

    I’m surprised the fountain pen was invented as recently as that, I suppose when William Shakespeare penned Macbeth he was using a feather quill?

    We live in phenomenal times, I think the way we write and communicate has changed more in the last 20 years than in the last 400 years. I wonder how we’ll communicate in the year 2,100. Really interesting artilcle, thanks for sharing.

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Simon, thanks a lot for leaving a comment. Its amazing to know what Shakespeare used for writing. I studied some of his books, ‘Antony and Cleopatra, Merchant of Venice – really rich stuff.

  3. Mitchell says:

    As someone who is working on a book themselves, I find this very interesting!

    To think that we’ve progressed so much in writing, makes you wonder how it we’ll evolve even in the next few years! Hopefully we won’t make it an all automated process like some other great things.

    Thanks for the great content 🙂

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Mitchell, looking back where we started surely makes us wonder whats coming next. The future looks promising. Thank you so much. Good luck with your book.

  4. Aydo says:

    Hi Femia,

    A really rich post you’ve got here,
    I’ve always thought that knowing the history of something is a manifestation of interest and enthusiasm towards it.

    Having bloggers around, like yourself, sharing such posts gives people the opportunity to develop their interest in all fields, and writing is to be a great subject of interset indeed!

    Thank you for enabling us to learn more about the fabulous art of writing as without it, our thoughts would be harder to express and even simple interactions such as this little comment would be impossible!

    Appreciate the good read 🙂

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Aydo, thank you so much for your comment. I feel so humbled and inspired to keep blogging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *