Ballpoint pens are modern pens, where ink a tube coats a ball at the end which writes. Unlike fountain pens they are inexpensive and require no skill beyond the ability to write.
Loud, an American Harvard-educated lawyer, invented and patented the ballpoint pen but failed to commercialize the pen. Other versions were released but none worked well; they typically delivered too much or too little ink.
László Bíró, a German Jewish refugee who fled to Argentina in 1941, theorized the problem was not with the pens but with the ink. Specifically, fountain pens required a thick ink that would adhere to the tip of the pen. Conversely, ballpoint pens required a thin ink that would spread evenly and dry quickly.
Working with his chemist brother, György, Bíró created a pen that used modified printer’s ink. The ink rolled smoothly and dried quickly, dramatically increasing quality while decreasing cost. His pens were expensive and patent protection weak enough that leading stores were selling non- Bíró pens.
In the 1950s, Bíró licensed and eventually sold his patent to Marcel Bich, who created a pen company after a shortened version of his name, Bic. His pens were a commercial failure at first but, by the 1960s advanced production techniques allowed him to lower the cost and ballpoint pens became ubiquitous.