Nifty engineering indeed. I recall one time that NASA spent millions of dollars in developing a ballpoint pen that would work in zero gravity environment. What did the Russian use in orbit? They used a pencil!!
Now that is known as “No Frill” engineering!
After an early point in manned space exploration, the Russians wisely went to pens as well:
Pencil lead is conductive, and so a break-off or even powdering of pencil lead can float around and cause electrical shorts, and hence fires.
A fire in space is a bad day indeed.
Yeah, it sounds extravagant to spend millions on a pen that operates in zero gravity, when a pencil would do, However, anyone who has tried to decipher something written in pencil, after a few years, can see the value of information written in ink.