The Evolution of Whiteboards: From Chalk Dust to Digital Interactivity

A young teacher instructing a class of teens using a whiteboard

We all remember the chalk and black or green boards that lined the walls of our classrooms. Powder all over your hands and clothes, even if you were just passing by. Then, things changed, and the black and green boards turned white. Markers replaced the fragile sticks of chalk that stained our clothes. Whiteboards are still commonly used, but what’s next? Whiteboards have evolved with technology, and now we have an assortment of interactive whiteboards. It’s an essential item for not only education but for businesses and everyday life as well. Find out where they came from and how whiteboards have transformed over the years. 

Chalk Meet Board

Steel chairs with wooden tops, an apple at the teacher’s desk, and a blackboard on each wall. The classic school set-up hasn’t changed much, except for the blackboard. Chalkboards really were black for a long time, until the 1960s. During the 18th century, students had their own mini-blackboards made out of slate or just painted wood. The oversized classroom chalkboards didn’t come into play until 1800 after a Scottish headmaster, James Pillans, asked his students to draw a map. Since the students couldn’t fit it on the small mini-boards, Pillans created a larger version. By 1840, these boards had caught many manufacturer’s attention, and they became mass-produced. 

It wasn’t until the 1960s when the color changed from black to green. Instead of the long-used black slate, companies began selling steel plates that were coated with green porcelain-based enamel. The switch in color and material made the chalkboards lighter and easier to transport since they weren’t as fragile as the slate material. Also, the green coloring made it much easier to erase completely. The term “blackboard” was replaced with “chalkboard” during this time. They’ve now started almost wholly to phase out of classrooms since the transition to whiteboards. 

Whiteboards Are The New Black 

Whiteboards still maintain to be a staple in classrooms, businesses, to home use.  They’ve been around since the ’50s and ‘60s, although the proper markers weren’t available at the time. Dry-erase markers didn’t come into play until 1975. The significant change to whiteboards came around 1994-1995 when it became obvious that chalk dust affected nearby computers. Over the next decade, chalkboards made their way out of schools and businesses, and whiteboards replaced them. The earliest whiteboards were melamine or an enameled hard surface. It was later changed to porcelain-on-steel, which made cleaning much easier. The magnetic backs came with this change as well. 

The first whiteboards were known as “wet-erase” since dry-erase markers weren’t as available when they first came out. Similar to the process of old chalkboards, wet-erase involved using a damp rag to clean off the writings after every use. Sill more practical than chalk, it was a pain to go through this process when giving demonstrations continually. The markers also had a very strong scent, making it hard to use for long periods of time. Now, we have whiteboards made of tempered glass and astonishing materials that make them easier to use than ever before. 

From Whiteboards To Interactive Boards

At the turn of the millennium, the advancement of technology has pushed whiteboards to the limit and made them electronic. There’s a broader selection to choose from since whiteboards still remain relevant in many environments. However, this has changed the game for meetings at an international level and now even a local level with social distancing along with school and working from home. Google has launched the Jamboard, Microsoft has the Surface Hub, and so on. Those can sit on the higher end of the price spectrum, but there are more affordable options now as well. Many of these have the capability to carry meetings across the country and the world. 

Industries That Can Benefit

There’s an endless list of businesses that can benefit from interactive whiteboards. School teachers have begun to implement them as they teach classes online. Many famous companies in the retail industry have used them for district meetings. Larger businesses have used them on an international level to present new ideas and structures to follow. No matter your industry, there’s a purpose to use them. Since we’ve slowly become a distance-communication world, technology’s advancement has made it more accessible, more efficient, and interactive than ever before.

Superior Copy Continues to Evolve

Interactive whiteboards have started to come back as teachers and businesses switch to a work-from-home model. The vast amount of industries that can benefit from the services they provide have become endless. When dealing with distant learning or presenting, it’s an accessible choice that continues to improve. Check out what interactive whiteboards we offer at Superior Copy Machines here. Give us a call with any questions or advice you need when switching up to this new environment changing device. 

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