The Write Stuff: How the Humble Pencil Conquered the World

Popular Mechanics:

It is believed that in the 1600s, a woodworker in Keswick, England, first came up with the idea of enclosing black lead in wood. A rectangular wooden stick was chopped in half lengthwise. A groove was then cut into one of the halves to make room for a slim stick of black lead. The three pieces—the black lead and the two halves of wood—were glued together with the black lead inside. The result was a rectangular writing implement and the world’s first wooden pencils.