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History of the Blackboard

In a world of laptops, tablets and smartphones it’s difficult to see how an invention like the blackboard had such a huge effect on education. But in 1801, the blackboard had a lasting impact on the way instructors taught. Not only did blackboards become very popular very quickly, they required fewer writing materials for schools and students who could not always afford paper and pencils.

Prior to the ingenious invention, teachers had no way of visually presenting spelling, grammar and mathematics to their students as a whole. Classes were taught directly from books and individual instruction making it difficult to overview and discuss important and sometimes overlooked events.

Before the invention of the blackboard, students did have access to individual slates, which they could write their assignments and answers on. This helped cut down on the cost and need of the sometimes unavailable paper and pencil supplies, but still offered no community of thoughts. These slates were usually just a wood board painted over with black grit.

So who deserves credit for the invention of the blackboard? James Pillans, Headmaster of the Old High School in Edinburgh, Scotland has been credited with the invention. He first used the boards to teach his geography lessons to his students. Finally in 1801, George Baron, an instructor at West Point Military Academy incorporated a large black chalk board into his math presentation. He was the first American Instructor to use a blackboard.

It wasn’t long before the blackboard became one of the popular and widely used teaching materials across the U.S. By the mid-1800s blackboards were in nearly every classroom in the U.S., however not every school was able to afford one.

Once the blackboard was invented Corkboards came later in 1891. In the 1960s, manufacturers got creative with the blackboards. This is when the green “blackboard” emerged. This was also around the time the boards became known as chalkboards since they were now either green or black.

Believe it or not, the innovative whiteboard that we know and use today wasn’t invented until the mid-1980s! Once the dry erase board hit the market, over 21% of all schools in the U.S. quickly converted to the more advanced board.

Now, as technology continues to change and advance, we have many more options, including the new clear dry erase board, which allow your room or office to remain cleaner, lighter, and even environmentally-friendly. The glassboard has revamped the idea of blackboards and whiteboards and creates a modern and edgy look for the 21st century teacher.

About Clarus Glassboards: Clarus is the leading manufacturer and innovator of glass whiteboards and glass visual display products. For more information about clear dry erase boards and our other glass architectural systems, please call 888-813-7414 or visit