The history of whiteboards began in the mid 1960s. It’s still a mystery as to who actually invented it. Some think that it began in China, but there is no real way to be sure. The first company to mass produce porcelain on steel write on / wipe off whiteboard (called LCS) was Claridge Products.
Whiteboards and Chalkboards
The whiteboards evolved from the chalkboards (or blackboards). Although chalkboards were popular, some teachers and students were allergic to chalk. When material was wiped off from the boards, the dust would fly off. By the 1960s, early versions of the whiteboard began to appear.
However the chalkboards were still popular. It was in the late 1980s that reports of chalk allergies became widely known, changing the history of whiteboards forever.
The Evolution of the Whiteboard
The early ones that came out were comprised of melamine. Not only was it costly, but excessive use left faint images of the material on it. Cleaning was also difficult. The enamel on steel write on / wipe off magnetic whiteboard was produced by Magiboards in Britain. In the United States, inventor Michael Boone helped popularized the Boone Board dry erase board.
As the whiteboard became more popular, innovations and improvements from various companies emerged. Most important of these innovations was reducing the glossiness of the surface. This gloss resulted in glares which was distracting for students. The history of whiteboards shows that by the late 2000s, high quality paint coating was being used. This resulted in a very clear surface that was easy to write on.
Most whiteboards use any of the following types for their materials: melamine, painted steel, magnetic glass or porcelain. Melamine is the least costly and is also the most widely used. It isn’t as durable as the other types and wears out with excessive use.
Painted steel is more durable and is smoother. However, over time it will show imprints from markers. Scratching also leaves marks. Glass types don’t suffer from any of the marks or ghostly images that other surfaces are prone to. This material is not porous and isn’t affected by staining.
The history of whiteboards show that the porcelain type is the most environmentally sound. Permanent markers can be erased. All non abrasive cleaners can be used on it as well.
Other Uses and Advantages
Its biggest advantage over chalkboard is that it doesn’t produce dust. This makes it possible to use whiteboards with computers. Chalkboards can’t be used with computers because of the dust.
Another benefit of whiteboards is that they can function as a screen for overhead projectors. This allows the teacher / presenter to use the device more efficiently.
The markers used to write are generally easier to handle than chalk. Unlike chalk, wiping off the marker is easier. Markers come in more colors than chalk. This allows a teacher to state points more clearly.
The history of whiteboards is just another step in the evolution of teaching tools and devices. Even today researchers are busy developing ways to help teachers and students interact more effectively.