The general public finally began learning the pen is mightier than the sword on this day in 1943, as the first commercially successful ballpoint pen was patented in the United States by Hungarian inventor László Bíró. Variations on the ballpoint pen had existed earlier, but no design was efficient and factory-ready as Bíró’s. The initial release of the ballpoint pens drew a massive demand, with some stores charging the equivalent of $150 in 2020, adjusted for inflation. In the decades since, ballpoint pens have all but replaced the fountain pen worldwide, though Pen Enthusiasts will always have a special place in their heart for the classic writing instrument.
“A cylinder could only roll backward and forward, while a pen needs to move in all directions… As it rolled along the pavement, it left a line of water in its wake. With that inspiration, the ballpoint was born.” —
James Ward, Wall Street Journal