September 29, 2011 - Inventors' Day

– Argentina

Say you live back in the time when writing means that you have to dip a quill into ink, carefully carry it over your paper to the spot on the page you left off, hoping you don't drip, and then you begin to scratch your quill across the paper, writing the next little bit-- but then the fragile quill catches a bit on the paper—or breaks a bit because it's at the end of its life—and BLOT! That page is done for!

Or maybe you live in the time when fountain pens have been invented, and there are little canisters of ink right inside your pen! No dipping necessary! Even better, the tip of the pen is metal! It'll never break, and it the texture of the paper is no match for metal, and so you never drip or blot!


But then you realize that you just smeared the last word you wrote as you moved your hand back to the beginning of the next line.

And...the page is ruined! Sigh.

A man named Laszlo Jozsef Biro noticed that newspaper ink was quick-drying and non-smearing. That's the kind of ink people should have in their pens, he thought.

But newspaper ink was too thick. It gummed up fountain pens rather than flowing out to make smooth lines.

Biro worked with his brother Georg, a chemist, to make a new kind of pen tip: a ball that would turn in a socket, and that would pick up ink from a cartridge as it rolled and then transfer it onto the paper as it rolled some more.

And so the world got its first ballpoint pen!

From Hungary to Argentina...

Today Argentinians honor all people, everywhere, who invent things, but Inventors' Day is set on the birthday of Laszlo Biro, who was born on this day in 1899 in Budapest, Hungary. He patented his invention of the ballpoint pen in Paris in 1938, and in 1943 he and his brother moved to Argentina, where they filed another patent and formed a pen-manufacturing company.

Do you have some invention ideas?

Check out some invention websites on the internet...
  • Creativity Pool is a place to share ideas and get ideas. Warning: this is a place where somebody else might grab your idea and create the invention. So don't share ideas if you intend to carry them out! 
  • Invention Idea -dot-org teaches the steps to funding your invention idea.
  • About-dot-com offers 11 practical lessons on turning an invention into money.

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