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In 2008 Bic Biro celebrated its 70th birthday, congratulations and jubilations! You’re still going strong, may your ball roll for many more years!
In many English-speaking countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the trademark Biro has reached the pinnacle, more is not possible for a product, it has become the synonym for any ball point pen. I wonder if the Hungarian László József Bíró (1899 – 1985) who invented this writing instrument in 1938 foresaw such a success. (from Wikipedia) “While working as a journalist, he noticed that the ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly, leaving the paper dry and smudge-free. He tried using the same ink in a fountain pen but found that it would not flow into the tip, as it was too viscous. … he developed a new tip consisting of a ball that was free to turn in a socket, and as it turned it would pick up ink from a cartridge and then roll to deposit it on the paper.“ It works a bit like a roll-on deodorant so-to-speak.
In 1950 the Frenchman Marcel Bich bought the patent and called his own version of the ball point pen BIC which soon became immensely popular. Strangely, the BIC people are not happy about their trademark becoming the generic term for ball point pens and the company's intellectual property department is known for writing letters to people who use the term without a capital letter at the beginning. The BIC® Cristal® ballpoint pen has become so famous that in 2002 it entered the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MOMA), at the Department of Architecture and Design. In 2005, BIC has sold its hundred billionth ballpoint pen.
I‘ve just read that the average German owns 13 ball point pens, I don‘t, I own maybe five, but one or two BICs are among them. They‘re the cheapest kind I‘ve found, and they write without smudging. From the BIC homepage: “The pen has a clear barrel so you can see the ink supply and a roll-proof, hexagon-shaped barrel provides comfortable controlled writing. Cap colour matches ink colour.“ I like the information that the cap is ventilated, it impresses me very much, such a cheap thingy, but with a ventilated cap! It‘s available in blue, black, red and green, but the Americans can‘t get green BICs for reasons the company does not disclose. Antarctica is the only continent where the pen can‘t be bought.
Why have I written “I own *maybe* five“ and “one *or* two“? Who can ever say how many biros they have in their households? More irritating: who can ever say where they disappear to? Here today, gone tomorrow. The biros that disappear should reappear somewhere else, strangely they don‘t, in this respect they‘re related to socks that go into the washing machine as twins but come out as single entities or to tea spoons in offices that also disappear miraculously to unknown destinations. I for one don‘t think that matter is without soul, I know, for example, that my key doesn‘t like me and often takes a break from me, where I am, it doesn‘t want to be. Some biros may also be misanthropic. Whatever, knowing about their wanderlust I‘d never buy an expensive biro!
Douglas Adams‘ answer to the problem can be found in The Hitchhikers‘s Guide To The Galaxy: “Somewhere in the cosmos, he said, along with all the planets inhabited by humanoids, reptiloids, fishoids, walking treeoids and superintelligent shades of the colour blue, there was also a planet entirely given over to biro life forms. And it was to this planet that unattended biros would make their way, slipping away quietly through wormholes in space to a world where they knew they could enjoy a uniquely biroid lifestyle, responding to highly biro-oriented stimuli, and generally leading the biro equivalent of the good life.“
You may be surprised to hear that I don‘t want my pupils to write their tests with biros, I urge them to write with fountain-pens. The reason is that their handwriting is better then, that they can use so-called ink-killers when they‘ve made a mistake and their tests look better. Besides, they rarely use good biros but specimen they‘ve found or rather stolen in banks, shops or wherever, and when I mark their tests, my hand gets smudged.
I‘ve got biros in my handbags and rucksacks, one is lying beside the telephone, I find them convenient, but when I write a letter - yes, I still do this occasionally in the Age Of The Computer - (for example to parents asking them to buy their children a fountain pen [!]), I use a fountain-pen.
As to the Specific Criteria Ciao requires: Sorry, but my biros have no soundtrack!