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On the Ball

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Hey, Pen People!

Today is designated to honor the massively popular ballpoint pen! Why today? Well, it *ahem* MARKS the anniversary of the patent being filed for the ballpoint pen back in 1943. Aside from Gel pens and Rollerball Pens (which use the same, basic mechanics), Ballpoint pens are likely the only pens you’ve used in your life unless you have an interest in calligraphy or comics.

Before the invention of the ballpoint pen, people wrote with anything handy that came to a point—traditionally a bird feather—that would get dipped in ink. After a while, the fountain pen came along—typically a wooden body with a metal tip to it that featured a small reservoir that you could fill with ink and continue writing for a longer length of time before needing to refill.  

So how’s the Ballpoint Pen work?

Ballpoint Pens are made to last for weeks and weeks of writing instead of just paragraphs or pages. They function by dispensing ink over a small metal ball at the very point—usually steel, brass, or tungsten carbide. As you move your pen across a paper surface, the ball rolls and leaves an inky trace behind its path.

The design was intended to be a cleaner and more reliable alternative to dip and fountain pens and has become the world's most-used writing instrument with millions being manufactured and sold every day! Despite its current standing in the world, Ballpoint Pens were initially thought to be an inferior pen because handwriting didn’t look as good. School children continued using old-style dip pens for a while before Ballpoint caught on.

Ballpoint Pens have also been called Biro Pens, named after László Bíró who typically gets all the credit for the Ballpoint Pen. Indeed, he IS the inventor of the modern Ballpoint Pen, it is one John J. Loud who is responsible for the Ballpoint technology. His pens, while wrote great on leather, were extremely rough on paper. The patent eventually lapsed and Mr. Bíró jumped on a newer version that wrote nicer on paper.  

Take today to appreciate what a wonderful invention the Ballpoint pen is. Write a note to a friend, a family member, or directly to yourself and do it in ink! Happy Ballpoint Pen Day, Folks! And, as always, thanks for reading.


- John

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