Who invented the ballpoint pen?
Who now knows the name of John D. Laud? Meanwhile, this is the first inventor of the ballpoint pen. Back in 1888, this American “Kulibin” from Massachusetts received a patent for a “pen with a rotating tip” —a small ball at the end of a hollow rod filled with ink.
Over the next thirty years, the US Patent Office issued 350 patents for similar ballpoint pens, but none of them became a commodity ...
The main obstacle was the ink! Too liquid blots left on paper and soiled pocket, and too thick froze on the ball. Sometimes it was possible to create suitable controlled conditions, and then the ink acted as it should ... until the air temperature changed. The best thing that could be created was a ballpoint pen, which, as a rule, wrote at air temperature of + 21 ° C, below 18 ° C it became clogged, and above + 25 ° C it leaked and left blots.
So, on the tablet of history, besides the author of the first ballpoint pen, those people who have spent more than a dozen years to bring this ingenious invention to mind come to mind. For each of them, the creation of the mechanism and design of the handle was an extremely important and very personal matter.It is not by chance that all legendary labels on branded and high-quality pens are someone’s last names. Behind each of them has its own saga, a fascinating novel, a century long.
Something like this was the case when the Biro brothers (Biro) took up this problem. After World War I, the 18-year-old Ladislav Biro (Laszlo Biro, László József Bíró) (1899 - 1985)
He was born in Budapest to a Jewish family. His father, Matias Biro, was a dentist. Son, it would seem, to follow in the footsteps of the parent. And, indeed, after school, Laszlo entered the medical faculty, but he never received a diploma. For some time he practiced as a hypnotist, worked in a company for the production of petroleum products. Then he participated in the then fashionable fad - auto racing, and even came up with an automatic transmission with a friend. The patent for this invention was bought by the American company General Motors in order not to allow anyone to realize this invention. A peculiar recognition that the inventor had a head on his shoulders! In the end, the young man became a journalist. Budapest journalist!
At the beginning of the 20th century, Budapest, which was the second capital of Austria-Hungary, joined the race as beautiful as hopeless. The second capital struggled to become more beautiful than the capital of the first, beautiful Vienna.And I must say that although the second Vienna from Budapest did not work, this race did him good. And it turned out: in Vienna, more stiffness and imperial brilliance, in Budapest - more provincial heat. In Vienna - the opera, in Budapest - the operetta. In Vienna, cafes came to eat decor sweet, in Budapest - to talk and even work. The editorial offices of many Budapest newspapers lived in the nearest cafes. H
Here, for not at all Viennese-made coffee with excellent, but still non-Viennese, delicacies, the editors have coined the next issue. Here, journalists discussed topical issues and scribbled relevant articles. Reporters came here and brought the latest news "on the tail" - right in the room. László Biro first headed the newspaper Hongrie-Magyarország, which in French and Hungarian meant Hungary, and after it was closed, began working in the newspaper Elôtte. Naturally, his working tool was a pen.
The ink flowed from the pen onto a newsprint, which absorbed the liquid like a sponge, and the end of the pen tore at the paper. In general, it was not an inscription, but a purple swamp. Even on the first-class paper there were blots, and ink stains were constantly on the fingers and on Biro's clothes.Then Ladislav called his brother George, a chemist by profession, and the Biro brothers began to develop new pens. After testing dozens of models, the brothers Ladislav and Georg, not knowing that 351 attempts had already been made before them, invented their ballpoint pen.
Once, while on vacation, being on the shores of the Mediterranean, the brothers began talking about their invention with a certain old gentleman. They showed a great writing pen that he liked. It turned out that this gentleman was the then president of Argentina, Augusto Yusto. He proposed to the Biro brothers to build a ballpoint pen factory in his country. A few years later, World War II began, and the brothers decided to leave Hungary. They remembered their old friend and fixed their eyes on South America. The brothers landed in Buenos Aires with ten dollars for two. Yustoto recognized them, and soon with the help of the president they managed to enlist the support of several investors. In 1943, a new factory opened in the city. The effect was tremendous, that is, there was a grand failure. The Biro brothers made the same mistake as all their predecessors - they relied on gravity, under the influence of which the ink fell on the ball. This meant that the pen had to be held strictly vertically.But even then the flow of ink was intermittent, and clots remained on the paper. Ladislav and Georg returned to the laboratory, and soon came up with a new design, capillary. Siphon swapping made the ink move to the ball regardless of the position of the pen.
June 10, 1943 is considered the birthday of a ballpoint pen.
A year later, the Biro brothers released a new model in Argentinean stores. However, the handles diverged sluggishly. In the end, the brothers ran out of money, and production had to be stopped.
But they came to the aid of military pilots of the United States. The pilots of the Air Force, who often visited Argentina during the war, discovered for themselves that Argentine pens can be written from bottom to top at any height and they do not need to be recharged often.
The stay in Paris was short. After the invasion of German troops, the Biro family moved overseas to Argentina. June 10, 1943 Laszlo Biro received an Argentine patent for his invention. And soon he organized a factory for the production of ballpoint pens "Eterpen". The annual sale of Biro pens has reached 7 million units. But the grand commercial success turned out to be local.When Laszlo Biro decided to start producing his pens in the USA, it turned out that one of the American businessmen had been to Argentina and estimated the commercial potential of the ballpoint pen.
At about the same time, a Chicago resident named Milton Reynolds also ran into Biro's hands in Argentina. He returned to the United States and found out that such pens were already patented by John D. Laud and other Americans, but their patents expired by then. Therefore, he decided that he could, without fear, copy the design of Biro. Yes, the American has issued the documents in his name. Biro's invention was simply stolen. The trial ended in his favor. The largest US market, Joseph Biro did not get. Once Biro managed to earn a million, but tens and hundreds of millions were earned by others, as is often the case with inventors.
Reynolds sold ball pens for 12 dollars and 50 cents through Gimbels’s New York department store.
When in 1945 the first batch of ballpoint pens went on sale in New York, the authorities had to put a cordon of several hundred policemen in order to hold back the pressure of people who wanted to buy a new pen.On the first day, 10 thousand new products were sold, although they were expensive.
The novelty attracted attention, and Gimbells sold the entire batch on the very first day, all 10,000 pens! Many industrialists wanted to stick to the glory of a successful entrepreneur. Reynolds hired swimming champion Esther Williams, who demonstrated that a ballpoint pen can write even underwater. Others have shown that the pen writes the ball up or through a stack of carbon paper.
But one problem still remained: in spite of the hype started around the novelty, the pens worked no matter. They leaked, destroying many important documents and excellent shirts. In addition, they are dry ink. Sales volume began to slowly creep down. Price - too. Ball pens, most recently considered a luxury item, began to be sold for just nineteen cents. But once having bought a pen, even for these pennies, and having tried to write, buyers swore at what the world was worth and swore not to buy pens for the rest of their lives ...
The man who forced buyers to repudiate such oaths was called Marcel Bich (1914-1994). He lived in France and was a manufacturer of pens and pens. Marcel with professional interest reacted to the ballpoint pens.At first, he only watched their popularity soar, and then fell like a stone to the ground and crumbled into dust ...
The root cause of this, of course, was the Second World War - after it, neither in the USA nor in Europe could people afford expensive things. Everything that was produced at that time was subordinated to the idea of maximum simplicity and utility. And against this background, Bish’s idea came to court. He decided to make a disposable pen and cut its price to the price of a rod - 29 cents instead of 10 dollars. At the same time, the task was not easy - in addition to the low price, it was necessary to ensure reliability at the level of the then fountain pens (which had reached perfection by that time). Otherwise, the pen would hardly have found buyers.
Bish built a writing equipment factory near Paris. The prototype pen of Marcel Bish served as a not too successful design of the Hungarians of the Biro brothers. They did not enjoy particular popularity because of many shortcomings, but in general they were ball pens in the modern sense, so the brothers agreed to sell the patent. Looking ahead to say that Argentina has become the second homeland for Laszlo Biro. In a Spanish-speaking country, his Hungarian name became Ladislav.And his birthday, September 29, became a national holiday, the Day of the inventor.
So, in 1950, Marcel Bish bought a patent for L. Biro and seriously improved his invention. M. Bisch used the method of metal processing invented in Switzerland with an accuracy of hundredths of a millimeter and began to produce steel balls with a diameter of just 1 mm. Thanks to this, Biro's ballpoint pen began to write thinner, and the ink did not leak through the writing knot at all and did not leave dirty stains on the paper.
For two years, Marcel Bish bought up all the ballpoint pen models on the market and pedantically tested them, revealing positive and negative sides. In 1952, Bish achieved triumph: a cheap hexagon handle made of transparent plastic wrote softly, without dripping or drying out.
Bick later recalled: “I thought it would be ideal to throw out the old thing in one place and buy a new one in another. I plunged into dreams: I wish I had so much money that it was not a pity to throw anything away. Then I realized: you just have to make the things themselves very cheap. ” And then the enterprising Marcel makes his BIC pens collapsible (you want, buy a rod and change it, only it cost as much as the pen itself), and starts advertising the product.
The handle of the new design Bish called the "Crystal" and in 1950 began the production of these pens in France.
In 1953, Bish began mass production, and two years later, two hundred and fifty thousand of his pens were sold each day.
And in 1958, Bisch defended his invention with a US patent and entered the American market, founding BiC. BiC began mass production of the cheapest disposable lightweight plastic ballpoint pens. These pens, six-sided, like a pencil, have practically supplanted other writing instruments from the American market.
Having studied the international market, Marcel Bish realized that he could not get through in America with his name. Then he changed the spelling of the name so that it could be correctly and easily pronounced everywhere, where his new pen will be sold - Beek. Model "Bik" immediately gained worldwide recognition.
It is also worth mentioning that soon Marcel Bish was able to acquire his own company Waterman, which specializes in stylish fountain pens.
Marcel Beek invented all new models, invented various designs of pens, but the old, reliable “Bic” never ceased to be the main source of income for the company.
The famous Bic Crystal is still the most popular among pens — 14 million units are produced per day (and no one is able to count forgeries). Its body is specially made transparent, as if to say: “the main thing is content, the shell is nothing.” However, fountain pens still find their customers - people who care not for the content, but for the image, or just rich people. Billions of pens, the style of which almost did not change, were sold, used, lost, disassembled, disappeared where it was not known, but they were acquired again ... After all, without them, like without hands!
Today, the production of pens has been significantly improved: pens are available with watches, radios, and digital voice recorders. The latest invention in this area is a pen-computer. She writes in regular ink, but on special paper, the built-in camera “translates” scribbles into plain text and sends images to the computer.
Despite the development of high technology, the usual ballpoint pen is in no hurry to give up their positions. Likewise, wooden pencil, created back in 1790, is still being successfully applied.