Early ball-point pen, c 1945.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The ball-point pen was invented by the Hungarian painter and journalist Laszlo Jozsef (later Ladislao Jose) Biro (1899-1985). His brother Georg helped him develop the ink, which is fed to the ball by capillary action. Biro's original pen was refillable, but this was soon abandoned. With the backing of an accountant, Henry Martin, Biro sold his idea to the RAF, and the first "Biros" were made by the Miles Aircraft Company. By Christmas 1945 pens like this, made by the Miles-Martin Pen Company, were on sale at 55 shillings each.