Low-Tech Skilcraft Pens Endure In A High-Tech World

by Christopher Paul on May 25, 2014

I shouldn’t be surprised there is a "standard issue government pen" being made but I am. There are just so many choices that it seems unnecessary. Even better, though, is that, by law, it’s made by blind workers:

For more than 40 years, standard black pens have cluttered the desks of thousands of federal employees, hung on a chain at post offices across the country and slipped into the pockets of countless military personnel. Yet few have realized that this government-issue pen has a history to rival that of any monument.

Blind workers assemble the pens in factories in Wisconsin and North Carolina under the brand name Skilcraft as part of a 72-year-old legislative mandate. The original 16-page specifications for the pen are still in force: It must be able to write continuously for a mile and in temperatures up to 160 degrees and down to 40 degrees below zero.


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