Computer History – The History of Writing

Writing History - Invention of The ComputerWhat did the first computer look like?

This post is a follow-up to brief history of writing, to explore the history of the computer, its evolution and  the pen period.

Evolution of pen
Why we need to include the pen history? The pen period is worthy mentioning because it occurred prior to the invention of the first computer in the world. 

The first fountain pen was invented in 1827. Pens fall into two categories.

  1. Modern Pens
  2. Historic Pens.

Ball Pen history
The ballpoint pen replaced the fountain pen. It has become the most commonly used pen for everyday writing.

The following pens are grouped according to the kind of their writing tips.

  • Rollerball pen uses gel ink.
  • Fountain pen uses water-based liquid ink with a nib.
  • Felt-tip pen or a marker has a porous tip of fibrous material. Markers are also known as highlighters. 

Historic pens
Historic pene are no longer commonly used but are occasionally used by calligraphers and other artists.

Below are a few of the historic ones. 

  1. Dip Pen
    A dip pen has no ink reservoir, so it must be repeatedly recharged with ink while being used.
  2. Quill Pen
    A quill pen is made from a flight feather of a large bird. Quill pens were largely used in medieval times fro writing on parchment or paper.
  3. Reed Pen
    A reed pen is made from a single piece of reed pointed into a square and splits at the point. For more information click here.

Many people like to use expensive brands of pens and fountain pens as a status symbol. 

The first computer in the world
The history of writing has evolved over the years, leaping from one form of technology to another.

I have picked a few examples of pens to showcase their evolution which finally led to the highway of computers.

  • The invention of the pen
  • Phonograph invention
  • Typewriter invention

Evolution of the phonograph
Writing HelpIn a study, Lisa Gateman reveals that ‘Machines for Writing and Reading,’ were invented in 1887. A phonograph is one of the machines. Its is a textual device for taking dictation and it became known in its later forms as a gramophone. 

Why was the typewriter invented?
The invention of the typewriter, the personal computer with the keyboard input method, offered another way to write. History records that early European typewriters began appearing in the early 19th century. 

First computer in the world
Freed and Ishida (1995) describe the computer invention as a huge milestone in technology which made it possible to include massive amounts of information on a tiny “chip.” 

Ever since the history of computers has presented a huge variety of computer technology which included the most basic calculator to complex mega-machines that we see today. 

A Massachusetts College Research Paper (2003) touches on how computers began. Claude Shannon (1948), a young engineer and mathematician, published a seminar paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication and introduced his theory that has paved way for the communication technologies we use today. 

Early wearable computers
A paper, Wearable Computers, was presented at an International Symposium (1998), as a follow-up to Shannon’s theory.

The first wearable computer, a cigarette pack sized analogue device, was jointly invented by the Shannons and Thorps in Las Vegas (1961). 

The history of writing has seen many developments in the communications sector. When trying to figure out what’s coming next, I get so excited. 

If you have any question in relation to my blog post, Computer History – The History of Writing, please feel free to leave below. I will be more than happy to respond as soon as I can.



8 Comments to “Computer History – The History of Writing”

  1. Simon Crowe in Asia says:

    Thank you for yet another interesting article Femia!

    It’s amazing to think even in my own short lifetime (born in 1985), we’ve gone from typewriters to home computers with floppy discs and slow dial up internet connectison to laptops with USB drives and now to Smartphones with 24/7 internet broadband access.

    It has never been easier to communicate with so many people – both a blessing and a curse! It’s not been harder to disconnect too! 🙂

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Simon, thank you so much for your comment. You are absolutely right. The changes are non-stop. They are just spiralling at an unprecedented scale.

  2. Isam says:

    Dear Femia,
    Good page and website. Here is my contribution in the following points:
    1- Your website has very good and clear text colors in the foreground and background.
    2- The whole idea about the history of writing is nice. Would you please add the Printers history as a writers’ tool to another page.
    3- Also, add how a section on media growth in terms of the exploration of writing tools technologies.

    I think this will enrich the audience and result in more beautiful interaction between you and your audience.

    With my best regards,


    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Isam, thank you so much for your comment and brilliant suggestions including the advice on adding the printer’s history as a writers’ tool. I will look into these as soon as I can. Keep checking.

  3. roamy says:

    Hello Femia
    Thanks for sharing your well-written post.It`s interesting knowing that we use pens almost every day( at least I still do) but never take the time to think when pens were first discovered.
    Another thing I have never stopped to think about is how many different pens are out there so this is a real good, interesting and informative reading.
    Just like pens, I personally have never really thought how computers came to be, so this is a real welcome read.In the end, one this is clear, computers have made communication easier,now when looking for any info, all you have to do is turn on the computer and the info is available.
    Do you still use pens? I find it a shame that pens are quickly running out of fashion.

    1. Femia says:

      Wow I love your comment, everything you have said. I still use pens a lot especially for taking minutes. I also use them to write down my article notes. Computers are such a fantastic invention, however, they need some manual backing-up. So I keep notes manually, just in case I lose my files on the computer or I lose my memory sticks.

  4. Shanna says:

    A lot of people don’t realize what a miracle written communication actually is. We take for granted that we can put our thoughts down on paper and transmit them anywhere in the world. And it doesn’t even have to be paper anymore, but the digital space between two computers. Thanks for such a well researched article highlighting some of the important steps in writing history.

    By the way, I am one of those calligraphers who still uses a dip pen. I also own quill pens and reed pens, though I can never really get them to work. One of the reasons I stick to a dip pen, when there are easier options out there, is because I feel it connects me to history in a unique way.

    1. Femia says:

      Hi, Shanna, thanks so much for your comment. I feel so humbled to hear your opinion about this subject ‘Writing History.’ Also, the fact that you are one of the calligraphers still using some of the pens I have listed, is just amazing.

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