History of Technical Writing


Who was the first technical writer? Quite likely Cro-Magnon man when was drawing on his cave walls. However, most experts would agree that technical documentation appeared as early as the 14th century.
Geoffrey Chaucer detailed the purpose and operation of a navigation device. Copernicus, Hippocrates, Newton and Leonardo da Vinci wrote explanatory notes to demonstrate the use of their inventions. All these publications can be seen as technical documentation.
But the golden age of technical writing started with the invention of the computer and the need for mass technical documentation. It started during World War II with the major technological upgrade manufacturing weapons and the creation of nuclear technologies.
Modern day technical documentation is linked to computer science in general and internet in particular. Needless to say, the growth in technology users has sparked the need for technical documentation.
The growth in technical products and services has created the demand for professional documentation. This has created a new profession: technical writing. A good technical writer is an honest mediator between people who create technology and who use technology.
The domain of technical writers has recently expanded to a more interactive (Web 2.0, wikis) one. Technical writing has evolved from pure technical writing into technical communicating.

  1. Instructions and procedures are documents that help either developers or end users operate or configure a device or program.
  2. Proposals. Most projects begin with a proposal—a document that describes the purpose of a project, the tasks that will be performed in the project, the methods used to complete the project, and finally the cost of the project.
  3. Emails, letters, and memoranda are some of the most frequently written documents in a business.
  4. Press releases. When a company wants to publicly reveal a new product or...