Ballpoint pen

inventor: László József Bíró, journalist, painter, inventor
time of inventon: 1938

About the inventor

László József Bíró

 He was born as László Schweiger into a Jewish family. Bíró was originally journalist by profession, but also dedicated himself to painting. He converted to Lutheran religion with his wife in 1938. In 1938 because of the measures taken against the Jews he moved to Paris and later settled down in Argentina.

Although he had more than 20 inventions, only a small part of them became widely used. Nevertheless, a lot of them inspired posterior inventors. His most famous invention was the ballpoint pen, but he worked on several other ones too, like an automatic gear shift, the roll-on deodorant and even a steam-operated washing machine from 1930.

László József Bíró died in Argentina in 1985. Since 1986 his birthday, the 29th of September is the Inventor’s Day (Día del Inventor) in Argentina.


Ballpoint pen

While working as a journalist in Hungary, he noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried quicker, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. Since this ink was thicker and less fluid, 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. He had his first invention patented under the name fountain pen in Hungary in 1938. Later on he filed another patent in Argentina as well. The first ballpoint pens manufactured for commercial use were sold under the name Eterpen from 1945. This new design was also licensed for production in the United Kingdom to be used by aircrews, since it worked much better at high altitude than the fountain pens, because the ink did not come out of it.  From the 1960s the ballpoint pen became wide-spread and commonly used everywhere in the world. It is widely referred to as „biro” or „biro pen” in English-speaking countries, in George Orwell’s works it is only mentioned by this name.

Source: Wikipedia