The Writing reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Writing

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Writing is the act of recording information on a medium so that it may be read by others or at a later time.

The medium is usually paper, though other permament media, such as cloth and clay can be used. Temporary media such as television and movie screens can also be used to display writing.

Writing is often done using a hand tool such as a pencil, a pen, or a brush, but more and more, text is being created by printers under the control of a computer application.

In the earliest times, writing was usually a set of pictures, which stood for words or ideas. The Egyptians used this kind of method in their invention of hieroglyphs. Chinese uses the same idea today, where a character stands for a thing rather than a sound.

About 5000 years ago, the first alphabet began to appear. A people known as the Sumerians, who lived in a part of the world now occupied by Iraq and its neighbors, developed a form of writing called cuneiform. Marks pressed into soft clay stood for sounds; after the clay had dried, it could be carried elsewhere for others to read. Cuneiform was also used to create messages on soft rock, leather, and papyrus.

It is only in the last few hundred years that most people have been able to write and to read. Until then, education was only for the wealthy or powerful, and because each book had to be created by hand, there were very few books available compared to the billions in the world today.