László József Bíró the inventor of the modern day ballpoint pen

Pens, Pencils & Markers

László József Bíró (pictured) invented the now ubiquitous ballpoint pen, now commonly referred to as a 'Biro'.

Bíró, while working as a journalist in Hungary, who had become increasingly agitated by splattering fountain pens, first hit on the idea in a Budapest printing shop when he saw an ink which dried almost as soon as it touched paper.

He later recalled: "It got me thinking how this process could be simplified right down to the level of an ordinary pen."

Working with his brother György, a chemist, he adapted the ink to make it thin enough to work in a ballpoint pen. In the end the pair came up with the biro's distinctive nib, containing a tiny ball bearing which rolls as the pen moves.

Bíró took out a British patent on his invention on June 15, 1938.

In 1945 Frenchman Marcel Bich bought the patent from Bíró for the pen, which soon became the main product of his BIC company.

Did you know? The simple plastic ballpoint pen, owes its existence at least in part to the RAF in WW II. The British Government placed the first ever bulk orders for Biro pens, for their air crews, during the Second World War. They asked for more than 30,000 pens so that navigators could write at high altitude where fountain pens tended to leak. They worked...

Today: The highly popular modern version of László Bíró's pen, the BIC Crystal, has daily worldwide sales of 14 million pieces.