The Evolution of Whiteboards
The Evolution of Whiteboards

office whiteboard ready for presentation

Just about everyone has come into contact with a whiteboard. Since their inception, whiteboards have nearly entirely replaced their predecessor, chalk blackboards. Today, whiteboards are used in classrooms, conference rooms, and other spaces all around the world. These ubiquitous, often-overlooked items have an interesting history.

The Board

There is actually a historical dispute over who invented the first whiteboard. Some say it was Martin Heit, a photographer who came up with the idea when he noticed that ink on the back of his film negatives could be easily wiped away. Others maintain that Albert Stallion, who worked for a major steel manufacturer in the UK, invented the whiteboard. Stallion proposed using enameled steel as a writing surface that would not be permanently stained by ink.

The Marker

While historians agree that the whiteboard was invented sometime in the late ’50s to early ’60s, they did not truly take over as successors to the blackboard until the ’70s. Early whiteboards were not significantly easier to clean than blackboards, requiring a wet cloth to remove the ink. It wasn’t until 1975, when Jerry Woolf invented a non-toxic type of dry ink, that whiteboards really took off in popularity.

Modern Whiteboards

Today, high-quality whiteboards are usually made of porcelain- or enamel-coated steel, aluminum or hard coated durable films laminated onto a rigid surface which can provide a cost effective, easily customized finish. These materials provide high visibility and virtually no staining, even after years of use. They can also be sustainably produced from recycled materials, and built to last a lifetime. Electronic whiteboards are the next step in whiteboard use, offering interactive displays and the ability to edit and save the information shared on a board.

Fifty years after their invention, the ease and familiarity of whiteboards mean they are likely to remain popular for many decades to come. At Transcontinental Advanced Coatings, our extensive product line includes hard coated dry erase films in our Strat-Fx brand and conductive films and foils for the z-flo® brand, which can be adapted for use in any industry where displaying information, brainstorming, and diagraming are crucial. Download our brochure to learn more, or fill out our form to get in touch with a representative.