In the mid-30s of the 20th century, the Hungarian journalist Laszlo-Jozsef Biro pondered the possibility of improving the fountain pen. He shared the idea with his brother Georg, a trained chemist, and the family enthusiastically set about developing the new pen design. The inventors decided to replace the sharp tip of the fountain pen with an ink rod with a freely rotating ball at the end.
In 1938, the Biro brothers released the first prototype of a ballpoint pen, but did not have time to start mass production. World War II broke out and the journalist Laszlo Biro was forced to emigrate to Paris and then to Argentina. In 1940, his brother also moved there. They managed to get the Argentine entrepreneur Juan Mein interested in their project, who agreed to invest in the release of a new type of pen.
In 1942, a small Argentinean factory began production of Birome ballpoint pens (short for Biro and Meyne). Interestingly, pilots were among the first to appreciate Birone pens. Unlike fountain pens, ballpoint pens did not flow at a height where there was low atmospheric pressure.
In 1944, Biro sold the production license to two American companies, hoping for great success in the United States. But an unexpected competitor appeared. A certain American Milton Reynolds in 1943, during a trip to Argentina, accidentally bought a ballpoint pen and decided to establish his own production in the States. The artful entrepreneur has run a powerful advertising campaign. The first batch of Reynolds Rocket pens went on sale on October 19, 1945. Ten thousand copies were sold out in a few hours at a price of $ 12.5 each.
The Eversharp company, which had an official production license, filed a lawsuit against the impostor, but failed to defend its right. For several years, the two firms were bitter rivals in the American market. By the way, as a result of this competition, the price of ballpoint pens fell from $ 12.5 to 50 cents. True, quality also suffered. In the 50s, the French company BIC became the new leader in the ballpoint pen market. The owner of the company, Marcel Beek, bought the manufacturing patent from the company founded by the brothers Biro and Mayne.
BIC pens combined good quality and low price. But the inventor of the ballpoint pen Laszlo Biro himself retired from commercial affairs in 1947 and devoted himself to painting. In Argentina, which became Biro's second homeland, they still remember him. Every year on September 29, on his birthday, the country celebrates the Inventor's Day.