A writing instrument which uses a small rolling ball fitted inside the tip of the pen delivering a thin layer of ink to the page. The ink is stored in a cartridge and continuously delivered to the pen's tip.

 The principle of the ball point pen dates from at least 1888 when John Loud took out patents for a product to mark leather using these principles, and Van Vechten Riesberg (in  1916) also took out patents surrounding this idea. Neither of these people developed their ideas to a point of commercial use. The first models went into production in 1895, although these early products had some problems.

The first person to produce an entirely satisfactory ball point pen was Ladislao (Laszlo) Josef Biro. He was an Hungarian journalist living in Argentina, and in later life told that the idea of the Ball point pen came to him while he was visiting a print shop. Mr. Biro watched the speed with which the printers' ink dried and determined to develop a similarly quick-drying writing instrument for journalists.

Mr. Biro applied for the patent on his first commercial model on June 10th, 1943. The British government, realising the Biro pens were ideal for RAF Aircrew use, bought the rights to this patent. 

The first commercially available pens were sold in Buenos Aires in 1945 by Eterpen Co. Britain wasn't far behind with the first pens available to the general public being sold at Christmas 1945 by the Miles-Martin Pen company

Early pens were expensive with the writing point an integral part of the pen body, so failures necessitated replacement of the complete pen. It was not until 1953 that the first inexpensive Ball Point pens were available when the French Baron, Bich, developed the industrial process for manufacturing ballpoint pens that lowered the unit cost dramatically.

A writing instrument that came into popularity shortly after World War II, displacing the fountain pen. The barrel of the pen houses a refill. The ink is a paste that is smudged onto the paper on a rotating ball. When the paste-ink is exhausted, the refill, including the ball, is replaced. While this provides for an adequate method of marking paper, it doesn’t offer the expressive qualities of a nib.

Ballpoints vary from inexpensive ones that are almost common property, jumping from person to person without much thought, to fairly nice ones. They are perhaps the most common pen available today.

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