Ovi -
we cover every issue
Poverty - Homeless  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Stop human trafficking
Ovi Language
Books by Avgi Meleti
WordsPlease - Inspiring the young to learn
Tony Zuvela - Cartoons, Illustrations
Stop human trafficking
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
I Spy Q
by Asa Butcher
2007-09-29 09:59:16
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
Quills are those feathery writing devices used in ye olden days when Thanos went to school and dinosaurs roamed the earth, but thanks to progress we are no longer plucking feathers from the butts of large birds to write our shopping lists. It is all thanks to László Bíró, the patron saint of water foul, that the world was blessed with the invention of the ballpoint pen in 1938.

In 1986, the year after Bíró's death, Argentina declared September 29th, Bíró's birthday, Inventor's Day to commemorate the Hungarian genius because he did live in Buenos Aires for forty years. Did you know that Hungarians also helped to develop the Atomic Bomb, the Model T Ford, matches, television, modern computers, supersonic flight, the carburettor, the Zeppelin, the automatic gearbox (Bíró again) and the Intel Corporation, yet few people can locate the country on a map.

Returning to point, or rather the ballpoint, it has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives, but biros have an irritating habit of always being in the wrong place, hiding or not functioning. Beside the computer we have a mug crammed full of an assorted array of red, black, green and blue ink biros, some work, some don't, some scratch the paper, some glide like water on glass, some are ours and some are… borrowed for an indefinite period of time.

Have you ever found a biro that works beautifully and not slipped it into your pocket? It is for this very reason that many banks and shops take the drastic measure of chaining them to desks, treating them like 19th century convicts or members of a chain gang, or they offer mini biros, 10cms in length, that are designed for a child's grip rather than an adults – when I hold one it is as though I have suddenly developed Mickey Mouse sized hands.

Whether you call it a "bye-roe" or – more bizarrely – a "bee-roh", we are all familiar with BIC, the world’s number one manufacturer of ballpoint pens. In 2005 BIC sold their hundred billionth ballpoint pen, which if laid end to end would be a colossal waste of time and energy. BIC is like the Everyman's Parker, if you will, and, as further proof of the BIC Cristal's iconic status, it entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art of New York – MOMA's Director has probably 'borrowed' it already.

In the mug beside the computer there are over thirty biros promoting hotel resorts, DIY stores, venues, restaurants, telecommunications companies, a few from my brother's wedding, one personalized with my wife's name and many other generic pens that have seemingly just appeared, since we never actually buy any. According to BIC, each of these ballpoint pens can produce between 2-3 kilometres (two miles) of writing, so we have the capability in our house to write "Bread, Milk, Cheese" on a shopping list a million times over. However, once you reach the supermarket and you are holding the list can you actually find a pen with which to cross off the items? Like hell you can!

The world has come a long way since László Bíró invented the biro in 1938 and Marcel Bich purchased the patent from him in 1950. We live in a world that may be dominated by computer technology, but there is still plenty of room for the biro. I guess László Bíró never imagined how popular his invention would become and it is without a sense of irony that today, on his birthday, you can even buy biro quills.

Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 13:12:47
The Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci always carries a pen with her prominently displayed. I suppose the pen for a writer is like the sword for a samurai; it is part of their identity. Its display is a warning to those who don’t respect either power or thinking. And while it is true that Socrates never wrote anything and submitted to the sword of the state, Plato did. It is called “The Apology.”

Clint2007-09-29 14:35:41
Thanos you deserve more respect!! I always hide my favourite pen, the one that never blobs, away from others enticing eyes or it seems to find a new home in the alien kitchen never to return. No article on Q and pens should miss out on Quink the curse of schoolboy essays.

Thanos2007-09-29 14:41:13
I have to admit that I have a favorite pen that I always carry with me since I was in early twenties and is not ...quill!!! ;)

© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi