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
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
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.