Monday, August 27, 2012

The History of the Ballpoint Pen

Because you were dying to know, yes?

From a review in the Wall Street Journal...

Through much trial and error, and with the help of his early backer and business partner, Andor Goy (1896-1991), Bíró developed a working ballpoint pen. The two men signed a contract to produce and market the pen in 1938. Thus a simple but remarkable invention came into a world about to be convulsed by death and destruction. We see Bíró refining the pen and experimenting with recipes for the ink paste essential to his concept while fleeing dangers that seemed to chase him across Europe as war brewed and then broke out.

Bíró comes across as amazingly tolerant of, even oblivious to, the uncertainties and dangers that threatened his life and the fate of his invention. He was not totally naïve; he tried to safeguard his commercial interests. Nor were his successive entrepreneurial collaborators totally unscrupulous. At each stage, Bíró tried to strike the best deal he could, though his own shares dwindled steadily—and at one point he had to choose between keeping his remaining shares or selling them to help his family flee to Argentina. Understandably, he had no regrets about bartering to save lives. Yet Mr. Moldova rightly emphasizes the ultimate irony that "the inventor who conducted the thousands of experiments needed to perfect the ballpoint pen ended up without a penny of stock in the factory where they had taken place." Inventors, beware!

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