The first successful ball point pen was invented by a Hungarian editor in the 1930s named László Bíró, who was looking for a way to use fast-drying newspaper ink for handwriting. Although his invention was the first successful ball point pen designed, others had tried for several years to create a more convenient writing instrument.
László's brother György was a chemist, and helped him to develop an ink that would work perfectly with his new pen design. The brothers filed a patent for their invention of the ball point pen in 1938, just in time for use by British pilots in World War II.
The first patent granted for a ball point pen design was in 1888 to John J. Loud. His design was useful for marking leather but not for writing on paper and his patent eventually lapsed.
The ball point pen was invented to replace the fountain pen, and the earlier writing instruments still used by many, quills and ink pots. These older writing devices often smeared, smudged, and splattered. Ink pot spills were also a big problem, as ink stains almost anything it touches.
Marcel Bich purchased the patent for the ball point pen from the Bíró brothers in 1945. He later shortened his name to BIC, the famous pen company we know today.
Bic's redesign made ball point pens affordable to everyone.
Approximately 14 million Bic pens are sold every day around the world.
In some countries, ball point pens are still referred to as 'Biros'.