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National Pencil Day

Posted by Judy on Mar 30th 2024

On March 30, 1858, Hymen Lipman was granted Patent No 19,783 for a pencil with an attached eraser. Although lead pencils and separate rubber erasers were common during the 1800’s, no one had combined the two into one instrument. His patent was ultimately revoked because it combined two products without producing a significantly different effect.

Patentable or not, the humble #2 pencil can write up to 45,000 words, will write upside down, underwater, and in zero gravity. And for those of us who jot down odd and not always accurate notes, the eraser is as indispensable as a delete or backspace key.

Recent research indicates that jotting something down by hand rather than typing it can improve information retention. An article in today’s New York Times cites a small Norwegian study that found that handwriting was associated with “far more elaborate” brain activity than keyboard writing. Using a keyboard requires the same movements for every letter written. With handwriting, each letter requires detailed motions that are unique to each letter, resulting in increased connectivity linked to memory and learning between different areas of the brain.

“I’m not writing in down to remember it later.”

“I’m writing it down to remember it now.”