Chances are you’ve never heard the name László József Bíró before, but you likely use his history-changing signature invention nearly every day. On Thursday, Google honored the Hungarian genius behind the ballpoint pen with a front-page doodle.
“While working as a journalist, he noticed that newspaper ink dried more quickly than the handwritten words pouring out of his fountain pen,” noted Time magazine on Thursday. “Determined to take clean, smudge-free notes, he teamed up with his brother, a chemist, to create the perfect writing apparatus.”
Bíro received a patent for his eponymous stylus in 1938, and in short order, the Jewish inventor’s pen found its way into the cockpits of aircraft battling the Third Reich.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Royal Air Force was among the first bulk purchasers of the new-fangled writing instrument. “During the Second World War the organisation ordered 30,000 of the tools, which would work at high altitudes unlike traditional fountain pens,” said the Telegraph.
It wasn’t until after the war, however, that the implement caught fire with civilian users after Italian-born businessman Marcel Bich, co-founder of Bic, bought the patent and successfully scaled production to produce an affordable pen for middle-class consumers, according to IPWatchdog.com.