The Pen

Personal Selection (What are some reasons you selected this tool?)

My design tool choice is the pen. I chose this object because its an item I use daily and I know that it’s been through many different forms throughout its history. Although, I’ve never read or heard any facts about the history of the pen so I thought it would be interesting to research.


The first real knowledge of a pen being used was in Roman times when metal stylus were used to etch into thin sheets of wax, this carrying over to the Dark Ages. Between 600–1800 AD the Europeans found that writing on parchment with a quill pen and ink improved the quality and readability of their writing. It wasn’t until 1884 that Lewis Edson Waterman created the first fountain pen. It wasn’t too successful commercially, until Josef Lazlo and George Biro made the ball point pen in the 1940s. They started being reproduced inexpensively by BIC in 1953.


The purpose of the pen back in the day was more important than it is today. Although the function remains the same, to record, whether in writing or drawing. In the past, they didn’t have computers to type on or write information on. They relied on pen and paper to track down any information that was important to remember or take record of. If there wasn’t an early form of a pen, then today we wouldn’t have as much knowledge of history. We wouldn’t have shared languages, or religious books, or even important documents like the Declaration of Independence.


There is no specific user for a pen. Anyone is capable of putting a pen to paper, even young children without knowledge of language yet. Any gender, any culture, any age.

Materials + Production

Since there are many different types of pens, there are many different materials used for them. In the past, pens were made from quills and ink. Today, they come in cheap plastic forms, metal, wood, fountain pens, 3D stylus pens, gel pens.. Probably any material has been used to create a pen. Even people have resorted back to using quills and instead designing them better, making them metal.


I believe the visual form of some kinds of pens convey how to use it. Some forms of pens are so complex and abstract designs that you may not even recognize it as a writing utensil. If a pen is paired with paper, it makes more sense to what it’s use is. Although if a pen is left alone, it may be confusing to a user who has never heard of a pen or seen one.

Evolution of the Pen
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