Why we love and revere such a utilitarian writing instrument isn’t much of a mystery. The ballpoint replaced the fountain pen. Fountain, hah. Gushers is what they were. Ink geysers. They spurted and erupted like nobody’s business. You needed a blotter to mop up the puddles. Gads, it’s a wonder people wrote anything down.
Then along came the Bíró brothers (more commonly known as László and György). They strolled into the European Patent Office, on this very day in 1943, and filed an application for the patent of the ballpoint pen. A star was born; the world rejoiced. Take that, ink stains.
But here’s what you don’t know about your trusty, beloved pen:
~ An average of 100 people die each year from choking on a ballpoint.
~ 125 are sold every second of every day.
~ BIC, alone, has sold more than 7 billion ballpoint pens in the US since 1983.
~ Ballpoints have a lifespan of about 50,000 words.
~ The most expensive, the Mont Blanc Ball Point, is $730,000.
A word of caution: ballpoints are not foolproof. So don’t be a hero, protect your pocket.