Ballpoint pens are, quite literally, everywhere. They’re kept in book bags, desks, cars, offices, classrooms, and even purses. This just goes to show how widespread the use of a ballpoint pen is. They are portable and affordable, and most of us pick them up without realizing how easily accessible they are. The reliability of this writing tool is something many of us take for granted. But when exactly did the ballpoint pen become so popular? Here, we’ll answer just that.
A brief history of the ballpoint pen
To appreciate how this pen reached its level of popularity today, it is worth looking at history to see who invented the ballpoint pen. Its creation is usually attributed to the famous Hungarian-Argentinian inventor László Bíró. In fact, his contribution to this invention is so significant that the term “biro” is commonly used to refer to a ballpoint pen in many places. His brother György also made contributions to the invention.
While Bíró patented the first ballpoint pen that could be used on paper back in 1938, another inventor had already begun working on the ballpoint design many years earlier. In 1888, American lawyer and occasional inventor John Loud created an ink pen with a revolving steel ball that could write on rougher surfaces such as wood and leather. However, his ballpoint pen was unable to write on paper, so the device did not gain any commercial value, and the patent eventually lapsed.
The popularity of the ballpoint pen
After World War II, the Bíró brothers licensed the design out to different countries. Sales were high at this time for the ballpoint pen, and it established “Bíró” as a household name for writing instruments.
Although the pens had some leaking issues, they were still widely popular and used even for pilots. An American entrepreneur by the name of Milton Reynolds was responsible for bringing the ballpoint pen to America. Using the Bíró prototype, he created his own version, called the “Reynolds Rocket” and sold it at a rather expensive price. But it wasn’t until Marcel Bich came along that the ballpoint pen started becoming popular enough for everyday use. He solved the leaking problem and lowered costs significantly. Bich paid László Bíró a royalty on his patent and created his own pen in 1952 in France, which was called the “Ballpoint Bic.” It was then that the demand for these pens finally took off as they were disposable, mass-produced, and cheap to make. The Parker Jotter was also released in 1954, and it became a huge success, selling millions in just over a year. By 1965, the French government had approved the Ballpoint Bic for use in schools, and other countries soon followed suit.
The Bottom Line
So, when did ballpoint pens become popular? As we’ve discussed here, the ever-popular biro gained traction after the war based on the 1938 patent invention of László and György Bíró. They were popular enough for everyday use in the 1950s and the 1960s, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Although ballpoint pens may not be as popular as they once were due to technological advancements that make us more reliant on touch screens, tablet pencils, and keyboards, there is still a place for them in everyday use. Just look around; you are bound to find this remarkable invention somewhere.
Written by EndlessPens Blogger Ramona Kabigting