Story Behind Inventors and Inventions Ball-point Pen

About the origins, history and story behind the scenes of the inventor and invention of the ball-point pen.

Extraordinary Stories behind Ordinary Objects That Had to Be Invented by Someone

Invention: Ball-point pen

Inventors: John Loud, U.S.; Lasalo Biro, Hungary; Franz Seech, Austria.

Year: 1888-1949

How Invented: From conception to production, the ball-point pen took 61 years to invent. Loud first patented a pen that used a rotating ball to deliver ink in 1888, but he never worked out enough of the technical problems to get the pen to write cleanly. In 1919 the ball-point was reinvented by Biro with the help of his brother Georg. They tried to market the idea but poverty and an incomplete design prevented their success until 1943. Fleeing war-torn France, they set up shop in Argentina. They borrowed the concept of capillary-action ink feeding from the fountain pen to refine their design, but still the ink splotched and smeared. Finally, in 1949, Seech, who was motivated by the collapse of the ball-point company for which he had worked, developed a new ink. The ink was highly concentrated and it dried on contact, so very little had to be applied to the paper and an even line could be drawn. The same year ball-point sales topped fountain pen sales.

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