Thursday, August 9, 2018

From Pencils on to pens

And so we look at pens today.  I thought the ballpoint pen was invented in the 1950's as we started to use them by 1960's in school.  What I remember is the Bic pen  - it was commercially successful by the 1960's.

I find out that the first patent for a ballpoint pen was issued in 1888.  It was later with the Biro brothers, in 1938, who filed a British patent, and then an Argentinian patent, after fleeing the Germans, that commercial models were made - by 1943.  

In terms of inventions, it is in our generation that the felt tip pen - the marker -  was invented and became a common tool.  It was developed by Yukio Horie, president of the Tokyo Stationery Company in the 1960s.  The company is now Pentel.

We know that the timeline of the pen starts with the Egyptian reed pen around 2000 BC.  Bamboo is a hollow, tubular plant that functioned well as a pen.

Remember Charles Dickens and the quill pen?  Quills were used as early as 600 AD, they continued for a long time. The fountain pen came in 1827, so Dickens would have switched over in his lifetime.

Many advancements occurred in the 19th and 20th century.  And of course, the typewriter is the tool that has competed most successfully for dominance. We remain with pens for our signatures, though, a defining part of our identity.

Here are some curiosities and interesting facts about pens:

95 percent of the time, when a person receives a new pen, the first thing they write is their own name.

The average Bic Cristal ballpoint can produce a line of around 2km. That means that one single pen could draw a line over four times longer than the height of the Empire State Building.

The world’s biggest ballpoint pen: 18 ft 0.53 in and weighing 82.08 lb 1.24 oz.
On average, a pen can write approximately 45,000 words.
The Aurora Diamante is the most expensive writing instrument till date. It retails at $1,470,600.  The pen contains over 30 carats of De Beerss diamonds on a solid platinum barrel.

In the late 1990s, NASA decided to design a pen to be used in space. They used millions of dollars and lots of time do design this pen but still couldn’t come up with a concept. However the Russians decided to take up a pencil instead. This saved millions of dollars and lots of time.

Former SIS officer Richard Tomlinson alleges that Pentel Rolling Writer rollerball pens were extensively used by agents to produce secret writing (invisible messages) while on missions. An agent would write the secret message on a piece of paper, then place a blank piece of paper over the message, pressing the two pages together for a moment. When they are separated, the second page looks completely blank but in fact, contains a latent (invisible) copy of the message. The agent then destroys the first piece of paper. Simply rubbing the blank-looking second piece of paper with an ink pen reveals the latent message.
Our pictures today show the random scratch lines to be found on metal followed by the pencil writing on the wall at Kingston Penitentiary.

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