Recently I was helping someone get used to a new application she needed to use in her work.


She had used WordPerfect for years and years, she told me. “I bet I used the first version there ever was,” she said. I told her she must have been using a mainframe, because WordPerfect was a document preparation program developed for use on those, before there were any “personal computers.”


Turned out she had used an early version of WordPerfect for use on a DOS operating system, and the first WordPerfect for Windows, and almost every version since then. WordPerfect used to be standard, in law offices. Now Microsoft Word is.


“I also used one of those things that was more like a typewriter, but it had this little display and worked like a computer, but all it did was our letters and court papers. It also printed,” she recalled. I remembered those. Brother made some of them. “What was your first word processor?” she asked.


Computer-wise, that would be the word processor that was part of GeoWorks, I said. Then she mused, “Well, I guess typewriters processed words…”


Later I thought about word processing some more, and decided my first word processing was accomplished with chalk on a little blackboard on the kitchen wall of my childhood home. Mother taught us to read and print and do some arithmetic before we were old enough for school.


Soon after making letters and numbers on the blackboard, I began to use paper and pencil, first for drawing and then for printing. Once in school I processed words with chalk, pencil and pen.


I could think of typewriters and teleprinters and telecopiers and maybe mimeographs as word processing equipment. But what would be my favorite? Probably a good pen.


Much as I like a good felt-tip, a Sharpie, a roller ball or even a marker, what I like more is a fountain pen.


I have had neat little Waterman pens, a Sheaffer or two and a nice Parker. I used to keep several fountain pens handy, one containing black ink, one with red, one with green. There was a special pen in a holder, for writing music. There was an Osmiroid for cursive Italic.


Some “ordinary” fountain pens were turned into the kind I liked for writing and lettering, when I filed the “beads” off the nibs and gave them a bevel.


The Sheaffers had snorkels which extended from the nib for filling the pens. Others had pumps, and others had bladders to squeeze.


I used Parker Quink and Sheaffer and Waterman and Pen-it ink for writing. It got so ink was not stocked in stores. But it could be found on desks in post offices and banks—so sometimes I resorted to filling up in those establishments. Then “ink pens” and ink vanished, or were eradicated, it seemed, leaving only ball-point pens and felt-tips.


Pilot Precise pens are nice, fine-point felt-tip pens. Actually the tips are nylon. I buy those Pilots by the dozen. I didn’t know Pilot makes fountain pens until I started searching for a fountain pen with a stub nib.


I found the Pilot 78G fountain pen at, and ordered it like a shot, along with a nice big bottle of velvet black Private Reserve.


They came in a few days, well packed to guard against accidents in transit. Not only would my valiant postal delivery person be annoyed to have ink escaping in the mail truck or bag, but I would be sorry to lose any of that Private Reserve. It took me about half an hour to get the top unscrewed the first time.


The pen is perfect. The stub nib does that thick-and-thin line thing. Cursive writing is a dying skill, but even for “manuscript” (hand printing), fountain pens are great.


Drawing pens are a whole nother thing—and I have bunches of those. But for word processing, there’s nothing like a good fountain pen filled with black, or blue-black, or “chocolat” ink.