The process has been practiced by a number of cultures including the Egyptians and some African tribes since the dawn of recorded time. Pyrographer Robert Boyer hypothesises that the art form dates back to prehistory, when early humans created designs using the charred remains of their fires. It was known in China from the time of the Han dynasty, where it was known as "Fire Needle Embroidery". During the Victorian era, the invention of pyrography machines sparked a widespread interest in the craft, and it was at this time that the term "pyrography" was coined (previously the name "pokerwork" had been most widely used).In the late 19th century, a Melbourne architect by the name of Alfred Smart discovered that water-based paint could be applied hot to wood by pumping benzoline fumes through a heated hollow platinum pencil. This improved the pokerwork process by allowing the addition of tinting and shading that were previously impossible. In the early 20th century, the development of the electric pyrographic hot wire wood etching machine further automated the pokerwork process. Pyrography is a traditional folk art in many European countries, including Romania, Hungary, as well as countries such as Argentina in South America.