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Ode to the Humble Ballpoint Pen

From the November 12, 1945 issue of Time magazine:

In Manhattan’s Gimbel Bros., Inc., thousands of people all but trampled one another last week to spend $12.50 each for a new fountain pen. The pen was made by Chicago’s Reynolds International Pen Co. In full-page ads, Gimbel’s modestly hailed it as the “fantastic, atomic era, miraculous pen.” It had a tiny ball bearing instead of a point, was guaranteed to need refilling only once every two years, would write under water (handy for mermaids), on paper, cloth, plastic or blotters.

Why in the world would people line up to spend more than $180 (in 2020 dollars) for a pen? Stephen Dowling explains how a “stroke of design genius” paired with fast-drying ink “changed writing forever.”



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