The History of Whiteboards Is Written in Chalk

To understand the point at which we have arrived it’s very important to look at where it all started. For those of us in the dry-erase industry we can pinpoint a single instance in history when the concept of the first blackboard, or chalkboard, whichever you prefer to call it, was born. This was back in 1823, almost 2 full centuries ago, when the good (well we’d have to assume he was good, he was definitely smart) Minister Samuel Reed Hall first painted pine wood black and starting scribbling on it with chalk. Where did chalk come from you ask? Well…it’s kind of always been there, a naturally occurring mineral composed of calcite. The cave men probably discovered it when they were brainstorming hunting strategies and collaborating to conceive the wheel.

People also used to employ this method of spreading plaster and soot on the wall and then writing on it with limestone. As you can imagine it was a write mess( get it? haha, I get it). As evidenced by this arduous and not-so-clean process people naturally began searching for a way to communicate on a grander scale. To visualize their thoughts, to substantiate their arguments, to impart their wisdom; it was an inherent impulse to create something to satisfy these needs. Oh, and it needs to be a lot easier to clean-up.

We would be historically remiss not mention in here a second debated source of the modern chalkboard, which of course in turn led to the glorious and aptly modern whiteboard. James Pillans, Headmaster of the Old High School of Edinburgh, Scotland, is often credited with inventing the chalkboard. While it is evident that Mr. Philans did indeed utilize blackboards in teaching his geography lessons, it is less clear if this instance pre-dates that of our fair Minister Samuel Reed Hall( you have to use his full title, lest you welcome the possibility of being struck by lightning). Alas we may never know who deserves the lion share of the credit, but the Scots are pretty renowned for their inventions: Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, pretty sure some other Scottish bro helped to invent the television( inarguably the greatest invention of all time). But we digress. To summize, the development of the original chalkboard/blackboard was nothing short of exceptional and revolutionary.

The origins of the terminology are pretty chalking as well. The first chalkboards were made of slate and colored either black or dark gray, hence the rise of the term blackboard. Later on, in the good ol’ US of A, these blackboards were colored green. These green chalkboards are constructed of porcelain enamel attached to steel at its base. So basically, blackboard is misnomer. But no one is going to get on you for that. Now for squeaking your chalk or blowing dust in their face, maybe. Well Thanks for joining us on this journey through the history of the chalkboard/blackboard which was constructed of slate. We’ll be back next week to divulge how this gave rise to the almighty whiteboard which brought us to where we are today.

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