by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
The pencil, one of the most important inventions in history if not the most important one.
While it is often said that the invention of the printing press with movable type – enter Gutenberg – was the most important invention and it liberated the people I put forward that it was the pencil.
The pencil made it possible to have a portable writing instrument on one's person and thus made reporters and journalists possible and with it the press, the media.
The pencil is also the only writing instrument that can write in space without the need of any technological invention and thus, instead of spending millions, as the US did to create a Space Pen that could write in the weightlessness of outer space, the USSR used a writing instrument already invented that would do the very same, namely the humble pencil.
It is not always the latest technology that is required and one does not have to go to invent something new; just use what has been proven to work.
While the humble pencil may not work under water, as they kept telling us when they issued us with the Fischer Space Pen, to which I replied that under water paper gets a little soggy anyway, it does work upside down, on a wall, and in outer space's weightlessness. And it also work in freezing temperatures.
Yes, true, it has got its drawbacks in that it needs to be sharpened every now and then but a small penknife will accomplish that quite nicely and, to add, when dropped the lead does tend to break inside. But those are bot minor drawbacks when the advantages are considered.
Call me old-fashioned, which I admit I am, but the humble pencil does it for me any day, especially a Number 2 or HB. Often we try to be far too sophisticated for our own good.