Writing Instruments

Today, BIC dominates the market with its ballpoint pens.

Writing Instruments

Writing Instruments 1

The efforts to further improve on the prevailing writing pen at the time – the fountain pen – gave rise to a new invention by Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian journalist who came up with the idea of utilizing the quick-drying ink used by printing presses for the writing pen to make sure writing was smudge-free. Since this type of ink was thick and did not flow easily from the pen's reservoir to the nib, Biro came up with a design for a pen that had a tiny ball bearing at the nib that would rotate and pick up ink from the reservoir to the nib as the pen moved along the paper. Thus, the first ballpoint pen was invented by Laszlo Biro and it became an immediate hit. Although Biro applied for a patent for his ballpoint pen design in Argentina and in Europe, he had neglected to apply for one in the U.S. and in 1945, Chicago businessman Milton Reynolds manufactured his own version of Biro's pen after buying a couple in Buenos Aires. Despite protests from Biro's camp, Reynolds was able to beat out Biro's pens in the U.S. market.
In spite of it being such a hit initially, interest in the ballpoint pen died a natural death because of customer dissatisfaction. The battle for market leadership forced the opposing companies to concentrate too much on marketing the product rather than improving its defects. Thus, the ballpoint pen fad died and the fountain pen was the leader once again.
That is, until the 1950's when Parker Pens introduced the jotter – a tiny ballpoint pen that assured a smudge-free writing experience and a writing lifespan five times longer than the Reynolds pen. In Europe, French Baron Bich dropped the h and began manufacturing BIC ballpoint pens that were improved versions of the Biro pens.
Today, BIC dominates the market with its ballpoint pens while Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman control the smaller upscale markets of fountain pens and expensive ballpoint pens.