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(established 1943)

The biro, or ballpoint pen, was developed commercially by Hungarian brothers László (1900–85) and George Biró in the 1940s, though its antecedents may be traced back to a patent registered in 1888. This was for a pen that could write on rough surfaces designed by the American inventor J. J. Loud. The Biró brothers had emigrated to Argentina where they registered their patent for a ballpoint pen in 1943, having solved a number of problems. The licensing rights were purchased by the British government as a means of developing a pen that would not leak at altitude for the Royal Air Force. The invention also attracted the attention of the US government in 1944 and in the following year the Eterpen Company, soon taken over by the Eversharp Company, began to market ballpoint pens in Buenos Aires. The proprietary name of biro was registered in Britain in 1947 where Martin Brothers began to market ballpoint pens. Other competitors emerged in the later 1940s but market confidence was dented by the number of poor quality products. However, when the Parker Pen Company entered the ballpoint market in 1954 with its Jotter pens, available in different point sizes, the market became more positive. In terms of popular ballpoint pens, the initiative was taken up by the BIC company, established by Marcel Bich in the early 1950s. BIC began marketing its best‐selling Crystal disposable biro in the 1960s, reaching annual daily sales of nearly 13 million by the late 20th century.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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