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A First Time for Everything

C. B. Lieber

Do you want to make an arts and crafts project? Just grab a pencil and some markers. Easy enough, right? Want to listen to some music while you work? Turn on the CD player. Pencils, markers, CDs… Did you ever stop and wonder who invented these objects we take for granted?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pencils

They’re on every school supplies list ever created, and their bright yellow color and pink eraser make them easy to find, fun to look at, and useful in erasing math errors! But how did these simple, practical writing tools come about?

Pencils were first developed in the 1500s, as sticks of graphite (which we call lead, even though it’s not really lead) encased in wood. In the 1820s, Ebenezer Wood, a pencil mill owner in New Hampshire, made the wood pencil casings in hexagon and octagon shapes, a style that soon became commonplace. In the 1850s, pencils and erasers were first put together, but the US Supreme Court ruled that the new pencil-plus-eraser couldn’t be patented because it wasn’t a new invention, just two existing inventions joined together. 

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