Why is the ballpoint pen also called biro or BIC in Italian?

The name derives from what is considered its inventor, the Hungarian journalist László Bíró who, using the fountain pen every day for professional reasons, knew the defect of staining the hands. It is said that, while observing some children playing with marbles near a puddle, they came up with the idea of inserting a small sphere into the tip of the pen, which would make it possible to obtain the same effect as a marble crossing a puddle, i.e. to leave a trace regular and uniform. To obtain a satisfactory result, he engaged his brother Győrgy - a talented chemist - to invent an ink that dries quickly and has the right density.

Unfortunately, the pioneering invention of the Biro brothers was not successful due to the very high production costs. So the inventor, a little discouraged, gave the patent to the Turin entrepreneur, but naturalized French, Marcel Bich. Bich's goal was to create an inexpensive writing instrument: he succeeded by starting the mass production of a ballpoint pen with a plastic body in 1950. At this point, the pen, which took its name from him (it is the surname Bich deprived of the final "h" to simplify the pronunciation) conquered the world. It seems that over a hundred billion copies have been sold in half a century.

In 2004 the Municipality of Turin affixed a plaque to the facade of the building in Corso Re Umberto 60 with the inscription: “Marcel Bich was born here. He simplified the daily life of writing ”. In the stationery and tobacco shops of Turin, it is quite common to hear someone wanting to buy a BIC, meaning the cheapest of ballpoint pens.

However, we like to conclude by recalling that even the ballpoint pen seems to be part of the extraordinary ideas conceived by Leonardo Da Vinci. In the Codex Atlanticus there are some sketches that suggest an ancestor of the ballpoint pen. The object was called by him "writing genius" and consisted of a small tube which, shrinking, closed with a sphere through which the ink flowed and which allowed writing.

Discover other places to visit in Turin and its surroundings:

Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Turin

The Leonardo da Vinci partner School is situated in the Crocetta residential district of Turin.
The welcoming friendly atmosphere of our school will make you feel at home and you can relax with your classmates in the small gardens of the adjacent pedestrian area.

Latest posts by Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Turin (see all)