Ballpoint Pens


A ballpoint pen is a pen that dispenses ink over a metal ball at its point. The metal commonly used is steel, brass or tungsten carbide. It was conceived and developed as a cleaner and more reliable alternative to quill and fountain pens and is now the world's most-used writing instrument:millions are manufactured and sold daily.

The first patent for a ballpoint pen[6] was issued on 30 October 1888, to John J. Loud,[7] a leather tanner, who was attempting to make a writing instrument that would be able to write on his leather products, which then-common fountain pens could not.

László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor frustrated by the amount of time that he wasted filling up fountain pens and cleaning up smudged pages, noticed that inks used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge free. He decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. Bíró enlisted the help of his brother György, a chemist, to develop viscous ink formulas for new ballpoint designs. Bíró's innovation successfully coupled ink-viscosity with a ball-socket mechanism which act compatibly to prevent ink from drying inside the reservoir while allowing controlled flow. Bíró filed a British patent on 15 June 1938.


  • The Berkshire Aircraft Museum.
  • Alan E. Cole