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László Bíró

László Bíró
Bíró, c. 1978
Born László József Bíró
(1899-09-29)29 September 1899
Budapest, Hungary
Died 24 October 1985(1985-10-24) (aged 86)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nationality Hungarian
Other names Ladislas Jozsef Biro
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship Hungarian, Argentine
Known for Inventor of the ballpoint pen
Religion Jewish
Spouse(s) Elsa Schick
Children Mariana

László József Bíró (Hungarian pronunciation: ; 29 September 1899 – 24 October 1985) was the inventor of the modern ballpoint pen.[1]

Bíró was born in Budapest, Hungary,[2] in 1899 into a Jewish family. He presented the first production of the ballpoint pen at the Budapest International Fair in 1931.[2] While working as a journalist in Hungary, 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. Working with his brother György,[1] a chemist, 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. Bíró patented the invention in Paris in 1938.

Birome's advertising in Argentine magazine Leoplán, 1945

In 1943 the brothers moved to Argentina. On 10 June they filed another patent, issued in the USA as US Patent 2,390,636,[3] and formed Biro Pens of Argentina (in Argentina the ballpoint pen is known as birome). This new design was licensed for production in the United Kingdom for supply to Royal Air Force aircrew, who found they worked much better than fountain pens at high altitude.[4]

In 1945 Marcel Bich bought the patent from Bíró for the pen, which soon became the main product of his Bic company.

László Bíró died in Buenos Aires in 1985. Argentina's Inventors' Day is celebrated on Bíró's birthday, 29 September.

Bíró's invention Birome

"Biro" trademark

A ballpoint pen is widely referred to as a "biro" in many countries, including the UK, Ireland, Australia and Italy.[5][6] Although the word is a registered trademark, it has become genericised.


  1. ^ a b Stoyles, Pennie; Peter Pentland (2006). The A to Z of Inventions and Inventors. p. 18.  
  2. ^ a b "Golyó a tollban - megemlékezés Bíró László Józsefről". Hungarian Patent Office (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  3. ^ """US2390636 "Writing Instrument (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  4. ^ Bevan, Rob; Tim Wright (2004). Unleash Your Creativity: Secrets of Creative Genius. p. 82.  
  5. ^ Room, Adrian (1983). Dictionary of Trade Name Origins.  
  6. ^ "Biro nell’Enciclopedia Treccani" (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-05-22. 

External links

  • Brief biography of Bíró by Budapest Pocket Guide
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