Monthly Archives: May 2011

The origins of Technical Writing

Technical documentation has been around for several centuries. Especially with the continuous launch and upgrade of technically advanced products and services, user guides and technical descriptions are needed.

Who was the first technical writer? Quite likely Cro-Magnon man when was drawing on his cave walls. But 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 and gave birth to 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 is now evolving from pure technical writing into technical communicating.

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