Many scholars think so. Without it, the history of the world would be drastically different. The alphabet was invented in Egypt around 2000 B.C. as a writing method to show the sounds of words. Its earliest readers read aloud and reading aloud continued to be the standard practice throughout ancient and medieval times. About 26 major alphabetic scripts are used worldwide. The English alphabet was handed down to us from the Romans (who only had 23 letters in their alphabet; it did not have a J, V, or W). Today, the English alphabet is the most popular script in the world, used by about 100 principal languages, 120 countries and nearly 2 billion people. Because an alphabet is so easy to learn, it became the vehicle of mass literacy, starting with the Egyptians back in 2000 B.C. It allowed farmers, shopkeepers and others of the humblest origins to read and write and, therefore, attain skills and knowledge that improved their lives.