Today I learned who invented the ballpoint pen
George K last edited by
“Who invented the ball-point pen?
a) Mr Biro
b) Mr Bich
c) Mr Quiet
d) Mr Loud
Writing was a hazardous activity before the advent of the ballpoint pen. Fountain pens had to be regularly dipped into an ink pot and were prone to leakages, and Indian ink (invented in China) was slow to dry on the page.
These problems were first recognised in a patent registered on 30 October 1888 by a leather tanner called John J. Loud. He created a pen with a small rotating ball for a nib that was constantly fed by an ink reservoir. Although the pen still leaked, it was much more effective for writing on leather than a fountain pen. Loud failed to exploit his patent. If he had, we might be talking about disposable ‘louds’ instead of ‘biros’.
The Hungarian László Biró (1899–1985) originally trained as a doctor but never graduated. He had brief stints as a hypnotist and a racing driver before taking up journalism.
Puzzled by the difference in drying times between newspaper ink and the slow-drying substance in his fountain pen, Biró and his chemist brother, György, fitted a pen with a small ball-bearing which successfully drew down the printing ink as it rotated. The biro was born.
The pair patented the pen in Hungary in 1938, and emigrated to Argentina in 1940 to avoid the Nazis, repatenting it there in 1943. An early customer was the RAF, encouraged by the pen’s performance at high altitude. This ensured the name ‘biro’ became synonymous with the ballpoint in Britain.
The first biros sold to the public were manufactured in 1945. At the same time, Biró licensed his pen to Frenchman Marcel Bich.
Bich called his company BiC and, by modifying Biró’s design, set up a mass-production process that meant the pens could be sold incredibly cheaply.
BiC remains the world’s ballpoint market-leader with annual sales of 1.38 billion euros. In 2005, they sold their 100 billionth pen. The best-selling BiC Cristal sells 14 million units a day.
As a mark of respect to Biró, the Argentines – who call the pens birome – celebrate Argentinian Inventors Day on 29 September, his birthday.”
jon-nyc last edited by
[Biró] originally trained as a doctor but never graduated. He had brief stints as a hypnotist and a racing driver before taking up journalism.
I want to party with this guy.
I see your tawdry pen history reference and raise you by 1x Nathan Tardiff.
Buckle up for some Revolutionary War history, coinciding with fountain pen engineering.Link to video