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Describe briefly the evolution of the writing system and tools. Your summary should not exceed 120 words.

 
Today, with just twenty-six letters, we can write a letter to our friends or answer an examination question. Thousands of years ago, there was no writing system at all. News, knowledge and information were passed on from one person to another by word of mouth. If you ever played 'rumor clinic' where a cognate message is passed from one person to another down the chain by mouth, you will understand the inefficiency of the system. Messages passed down are unreliable as the speakers may mix up or lose part of the information.

The first written language was invented by the early cave man. They tied bits of animal hair together to form brushes and painted pictures on the cave wall, telling their friends about their hunts. It was after several centuries that different writing systems like the Chinese characters and hieroglyphs in Egypt were invented. The alphabetical system that we are using currently also came about only after many decades of development.

Besides alphabets, the invention of writing tools is another major transition. In olden times, the kind of writing tools used, depended on the material they wrote on. For example, in the Middle East, where clay is abundant in supply, the early people used hollow reed 'pens' to carve onto the wet clay tablets. After which, these clay pieces were baked till rock hard to make the writings permanent. In ancient Egypt, Egyptians either wrote on scraped thin pieces of animal skins called 'parchment' or flattened papaya stems known as 'papyrus'. Their writing tool was a primitive kind of fountain pen -- a reed with ink inside.

It was only in the 1880s, that fountain pens were invented. Before that, most people used either quill pens - sharpened bird feathers or nibbed pens, which were dipped into ink before writing. Fountain pens invented later have both plus and minus points. With tiny ink tanks in them, fountain pens are superior to quill or nibbed ones as the ink in them do not run out as quickly. The disadvantage is that sometimes, the nibs of the fountain pens may break, causing the ink to leak, staining the writer's fingers.

The flaw in fountain pens has led to further investigation and the successful invention of the first 'ballpoint' pen by a Hungarian, Ladislao Biro. There were many people after him who tried to improve upon the appearance of his ballpoint pens. Today, 'ballpoint' pens are conveniently and widely used in the world.      

 
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Answer
 
Cave man invented the first written language by drawing pictures on cave walls to tell their friends about their hunts. It then took several centuries for the Chinese characters, Egyptian hieroglyphs and the alphabetical system we use today to develop. The writing tools used in ancient times complimented with the material people wrote on. In the Middle East, hollow reeds were used to write on wet clay while in Egypt, reeds containing ink were used to write on animal skins or papaya stems. Quill or nibbed pens which require constant ink dipping were used before the invention of fountain pens. Discovering that the nibs of fountain pens break easily causing ink leakage, 'ballpoint' pens were invented to replace them. ( 114 words )
     
cognate   a word that has the same origin, or that is related in some way, to a word in another language
     
quill   a pen made from a bird's feather, used in the past
     
nib   a pointed metal part at one end of a pen, which the ink flows through when you write or draw
     
 
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