Short one with the Count.

In an article from 2003 entitled “No more pencils in high-tech world? Think again,” John Schmid of the International Herald Tribune writes about our favorite tool:

“The world’s oldest word-processing and graphics system has no memory and no spell checker. It needs constant maintenance and cannot be upgraded; it could not be more analog and less compatible.

And folks keep using it.

For over four centuries, the classic wooden pencil has defied obsolescence — a feat that generations of laptops and palm devices cannot match. Even in the aftermath of the great technology bust, worldwide output of basic black-lead pencils has continued to grow and now reaches an estimated 15 billion a year.

‘Twenty years ago, I really worried about what will happen with the wood-cased pencil,’ said Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, the chief executive of Faber-Castell, the world’s biggest and oldest maker of pencils.

‘Yet I still believe in handheld writing,” said the count, the scion of an aristocratic family that has run the closely held Bavarian company since 1761. “If I had listened to my advisers 20 years ago, who talked back then about computer-aided writing and whatever else, I would be bankrupt’….

….In terms of raw numbers, the pencil is mightier than the PC, whose estimated 140 million in sales last year is dwarfed by pencils’ billion. Production of black-lead pencils across Europe rose 12 percent in 2001 from 2000, according to the most recent figures from the European Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. In developing countries, demand has grown even faster, Meller said.

And in the $220 million United States market for black-lead pencils, sales have held steady or risen, according to the A.C. Nielsen agency. A torrent of cheap, unbranded Chinese imports, which have tripled since 1996 to $30 million last year, led to anti-dumping duties against Chinese companies starting in the mid-’90s.”

It is a very well-written article which is definitely worth reading, especially considering that the Faber-Castell 9000 turns 100 years old this year — an even which will surely not go unnoticed at Pencil Revolution. We’re at work on a story about this centenary milestone for the near future! Read the rest of the article at the IHT archive.

[Image, Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, CEO of Faber-Castell, copyright, F-C.]

One thought on “Short one with the Count.”

  1. I’m sorry Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell but I like Steadtler’s pencils better…

    Anyway, the reason why computers haven’t defeated pencils is because computers are essentially the same they were 50 years ago. I’m still waiting for the real next-gen computers, the ones that look like a book where you write at it and use multiple pages for user switching, multiple desktops and so on. But I’m sure such computer will never exist and that there is no future computer for the final computer form is the one we see today.
    No Tablet PCs aren’t what I meant but they are a good start, but as everyone knows they sell terribly and almost no one knows them outside the geek world so pencils life will be long and happy!

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