In 1931 Lázló Biró, a Hungarian-Argentinian newspaper editor frustrated by the amount of time wasted filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, 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 Georg, a chemist, Biró developed a new tip consisting of a tiny ball that was free to turn in a socket, which would pick up ink from a cartridge as it turned, and then roll to deposit it on the paper. He presented the first production of the ball pen at the Budapest International Fair in 1931, and patented it in Paris in 1938. This was the first commercially successful ballpoint pen, still known in England as a “Biro.”
29 October marks the 75th anniversary of the first commercially successful ballpoint pen going on sale in the USA. Entrepreneur Milton Reynolds came across a Birome ballpoint pen during a business trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina and, with sufficient design modifications to obtain an American patent, the Reynold Rocket debuted in Gimbels department store in New York City for US $12.50 each.
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