Today, 29th September 2016, would have been the 117th birthday of the inventor of the ballpoint pen.
Hungarian László József Bíró worked as a journalist and was frustrated by the length of time that fountain pen ink took to dry. While working as a journalist in Hungary, he noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He tried using the same ink in a fountain pen but found that it would not flow into the tip, as it was too viscous.
Working with his brother György, a chemist, he developed a new tip consisting of a ball that was free to turn in a socket, and as it turned it would pick up ink from a cartridge and then roll to deposit it on the paper. The ballpoint pen was born and was presented to the World at the Budapest International Fair in 1931.
The new invention really caught on when it was licensed for production in the United Kingdom for supply to Royal Air Force aircrew, who found they worked much better than fountain pens at high altitude. In 1945 Marcel Bich bought the patent from Bíró for the pen, and it soon became the main product of his Bic company.
Our full range of M&G ball point pens can be found here.