An average pen can write about 45,000 words before running out of ink.
The smallest pen in the world is the ‘Nanofountain Probe‘. Scientists use it for nanoscale on-chip patterning. The lines that this device produces are only 40 nanometers wide.
The larget ball point pen in the world is a ballpoint pen created by Acharya Makunuri Srinivasa in 2011. The pen is 5.5 meters high and weighs 37 kilograms. It holds the Guinness world record and it’s fully functional. Besides that, it looks beautiful!
The earliest records of the pen date back to 3,000 years B.C. Ancient Egyptians created the first pens, which could write on papyrus. They made the pens out of wood and bamboo straws, and the ink from soot or ochre combined with beeswax.
From the year 700 A.D. to around the 1700’s, the quill pen was the main writing instrument. Although swan feathers made the best quills, common people usually used goose feathers because swan feathers were hard to find and they were expensive. Crow feathers were used for fine lines.
The idea for a pen with an ink container was conceived in 973 A.D. by Ma’ād al-Mu’izz, an African caliph. He despised when the ink spilled on his hands and clothes, so he commissioned someone to invent a pen that could solve his problem. The result was a fountain pen quite similar to the modern design that we use today. Basically, this odd request changed the way we make pens forever.
Although there is evidence that people have been using it since the 1700’s, the pen wasn’t patented until much later, in 1888. The owner of the patent is John Loud.
The biro pen, which is the British term for the ballpoint pen, got its name from its inventor – Laszlo Biro. Loud was the first one to patent the pen, but his idea wasn’t good enough at the time. However, Biro’s patent was commercially successful and he took most of the credit. That’s why he is considered the designer of the modern pen.
The most common types of pens are the ballpoint pen (biro pen), the gel pen, the fountain pen, the brush pen, and the marker pen. Highlighters and markers are also types of pens.
Ballpoint pens have a small brass or steel ball at the end. The ball distributes ink evenly and doesn’t allow ink to dry. WWII pilots used them frequently because they didn’t leak when they were way up in the sky, unlike other pens.
Because they use quick-drying ink, ballpoint pens are also left-handed writers’ first choice.
Most ballpoint pens have brass balls at the tip. However, some manufacturers make these balls out of tungsten carbide – a chemical compound known for being tougher than steel.
In 1949, Marcel Bich designed the very first affordable pen as we know and recognise it today. He named it BIC after his own name.
A regular BIC ballpoint pen can draw a line that’s about 2 kilometers long. That’s more than 6 times longer than the height of the Eiffel tower!
The United States produces more than 2 billion pens a year.
Paul Fisher designed the Space Pen for the 1968 Apollo mission. Of course, this was not a regular pen – the Space Pen used cartridge ink that worked in zero gravity, underwater, upside-down and could even write on oily surfaces. It also lasted 3 times longer than a regular pen. And not just that – it was able to endure extreme temperatures (from -40°C to 120°C).
Here’s another fun fact that involves an Apollo mission and a pen. During the Apollo 11 expedition, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong noticed that something had fallen off the circuit breaker. After a thorough examination, they realised that the missing piece was the engine switch and that they could not return to Earth unless they replaced it somehow. Buzz Aldrin came up with an interesting solution – he jammed a felt-tip pen in the hole where the switch used to be. Luckily, that worked, and they were able to return. The pen literally saved their lives!