The trade name “Biro” is forever etched in the memory of officer workers everywhere in the Western world.
But exactly who was Mr Biro?
Laszlo Biro was the son of a Jewish dentist born in Budapest in 1899, and his career began in the army as a trainee officer during World War I.
After the war ended, Biro followed in the footsteps of his elder brother and studied medicine, but he got side-tracked working as a hypnotist. He discovered that hypnotism was a great money-spinner and couldn’t be bothered to finish his medical training.
But his highly active entrepreneurial mind soon got bored with hypnotism too, and he began a whole series of career moves, becoming an insurance salesman next and then a book publisher.
He worked for a company selling oil and then managed to invent an automatic gearbox with a friend.
The pair signed a contract with General Motors to carry on their research, although the design didn’t result in an end product.
While working for General Motors, Biro also worked as a weekly newspaper reporter to help bring in extra cash, and at the same time began working with his brother on developing a ballpoint pen.
It took more than a decade to perfect the prototype, but finally the Biro pen was launched in the UK in 1945 by the Miles-Martin Pen Company, and the rest, as they say, is history.
A staggering 100 billion biros have been sold since 1950 – and even today, with a much greater choice of pens available to the consumer, 57 Bic Biros are purchased every second!