The Advent of the Ball Point Pen

The ball point pen was invented by Ladislao José Biro and originally sold for $55.00 as it was not a cheap, mass produced, consumable product at the time. Accounting for inflation, the ball point pen retails in today’s market for approximately $0.19 (19 cents) per unit. Biro’s first idea was to have a ball tip made from brass, steel, or tungsten carbide with quick drying newspaper ink, but unfortunately it did not work. Biro then moved to a slower drying ink cartridge and to his good fortune, the idea worked. The ball point pen works by rolling and picking up a thin film from the ink cartridge held above the ball point. Until this point, quills and lead pencils were used for writing as the quill had been around since 600 A.D., and the lead pencil had been in circulation since 1795. Biro’s first major customer was the Royal Air Force, as Biro developed and introduced the ball point pen in 1940 which was towards the beginning of World War II. The Royal Air Force was interested in the idea because it allowed their military to write at high altitudes, unlike traditional fountain pens. Interestingly enough, Biro was not the first person to come up with the idea of a rollerball system for delivering ink to the nib of a pen. John Loud is widely believed to have patented the first ballpoint pen back in 1888, but he failed to turn it into a commercial product and so his patent lapsed

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